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April 17, 2000 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Mike Awesome jumps ship to WCW, Russo/Bischoff era of Nitro begins, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 April 17, 2000

At press time, exactly what is going on between WCW and ECW regarding current ECW heavyweight champion Mike Awesome is apparently up in the air.

In a strange series of circumstances, it appeared that Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo, in their attempt to re-create the debuting impact of Nitro in 1995 with Lex Luger's surprising walking on the set, combined with the incident where Madusa threw the WWF womens title belt in the garbage can, since they were unable to secure any WWF talent, made a huge pitch to garner ECW's heavyweight champion.

Awesome, who apparently had more than two years remaining on a deal through the late summer of 2002 with ECW, started the weekend by no-showing matches on 4/6 in Cleveland and 4/7 in Warren, OH. There had been some rumors the previous weekend regarding Awesome jumping, with Paul Heyman claiming it would be impossible because of their existing contract. Heyman and contracts have always been one of those strange deals because of the widespread belief, justified numerous times in the past, that wrestlers claimed by the promotion and even in many cases by the wrestlers themselves as being under contract to the company, actually weren't. Sabu represented himself to WCW as not having had a written contract with ECW, which as it turned out, wasn't the case, which has left him in temporary limbo.

When Awesome missed the first show, there was no cause for concern since he stated that his flight from Florida was grounded and he had never missed a show previously. The next night, he claimed his flight had been delayed again when he hadn't arrived, and just before show time, reports from the arena claim Jeff Jones talked with him and he said he had landed and would be at the arena shortly. But once again he never arrived, which raised legitimate suspicion even though nobody in ECW up to that point was aware of internet reports of his leaving for WCW. By that evening, word was getting around about a report on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show that morning in Tampa, a known wrestling fan who has worked with all three major promotions when they run the city and is well known for being friends with Terry Bollea and Jimmy Hart, claiming that WCW had made Awesome a high six-figure per year offer and he was joining the company. By the next day, it was fairly common knowledge in wrestling that he had accepted the WCW deal and was not going to return to ECW and drop the title before leaving. It was generally regarded, whether Heyman had or hadn't treated him fairly, that by no-showing the final weekend and not dropping the title in the ring before leaving, he was acting unprofessionally, whether by his own designs, or through encouragement of WCW to throw the belt itself in the garbage can on Nitro and make a statement regarding questions about whether ECW had surpassed WCW for the No. 2 spot.

Heyman showed up on 4/8 in Buffalo for the TNN tapings and showed several people what appeared to be a three-year contract with Mike Alfonso for slightly over $600,000 in total over the duration. The contract contained initials on several pages and a signature. The nature of the business being what it is, there were those who even questioned whether the signature was real, particularly since friends of Alfonso and apparently even Alfonso himself were insistent that he had never actually signed his contract. Backstage the stories went around that WCW had made offers or inquiries about several ECW wrestlers including Storm indirectly (this is definitely true), Sandman, Rhino, James Vandenburg, Mikey Whipwreck and Kid Kash. On 4/10, there was an attempt to get a temporary restraining order against Awesome appearing on Nitro, which didn't happen, but the previous night, due to the existence of the contract, it appeared Awesome was being pulled from the show the next night anyway. Negotiations went back and forth all day between WCW and ECW, ending just prior to the show going on the air with the agreement that WCW would pay ECW a figure reported in the low six figures to give Alfonso a release from his deal, and in return, Alfonso would not bring the ECW belt on television, would appear in street clothes to do his angle with Kevin Nash, and WCW would allow him to wrestle in Indianapolis for ECW on 4/13 to drop the title in the ring. This would be his final ECW appearance, so ECW could broadcast the news of the title change the next night on TNN before he actually wrestled his first match on WCW television. In addition, on Nitro, Awesome would be billed as ECW champion and they would plug the upcoming title defense in ECW and the TNN show on Friday. The situation got even more complicated because WCW sort of plugged that Awesome had a title defense upcoming but in a vague way where it really didn't mean anything, never plugged the TNN show, and apparently, also violated the agreement by Awesome cutting an interview on the show. This led to a situation that went back-and-forth prior to the WCW Thunder tapings on 4/11 in Colorado Springs, CO which Eric Bischoff termed that afternoon on Wrestling Observer Live something that he had spent most of the day working on, and termed Awesome's eventual work destination as far as WCW or ECW being "a jump ball" while sources in ECW claimed the original settlement because of the violation may be out the window.

Exactly how this all turns out may wind up being a major turning point during a period when, for the first time ever, many were considering ECW the No. 2 promotion in the United States. In March, its PPV show and its average house show attendance was ahead of that of WCW for the first time ever. However, if WCW is able to sign and keep an ECW contracted main eventer, and one of the company's highest paid wrestlers, it would thus destroy storylines planned many months in advance as ECW's biggest money program was being built for Awesome vs. Rob Van Dam for many months down the line as what the company believed would be its biggest PPV show ever. The match was being held probably not until the winter dependent upon how the TV situation falls into place. This would make it impossible for ECW to book long-term because of the knowledge that WCW could conceivably grab any of its talent and destroy the program long before it came to fruition and use its big checkbook to buy its way out of any potential legal problems.

As it was, all the news behind the scenes when it came to the general public watching Nitro itself was almost much to do about nothing. Few people in the Pepsi Arena when Awesome came out to attack Nash even knew who he was, and his mic work didn't make him even a memorable point on the show except to the hardcore audience. The bottom line is that ECW a few days earlier drew an 0.9 rating, and you'd have to figure by that point in time with Raw on the air, at least two-thirds of that audience was watching Raw instead of Nitro, meaning of the 2.7 ratings points WCW was delivering at that moment, maybe 0.3 tops of them were to people who actually watch ECW on TNN. This is not to say Awesome can't be a superstar in WCW with exposure on their shows, because if handled correctly, he can be, but he would have to be protected from his weaknesses as Heyman carefully did. There were matches that probably could have drawn some money in ECW with Awesome (Sandman in particular) that Heyman would never do realizing the end result would expose Awesome's weaknesses. He's also 35 years old and coming off double knee surgery and having spent years as a huge man and a high flier in Japan and his best style of matches are a relatively dangerous style not favored in WCW.

Backstage in Buffalo, Heyman was intent on getting on paper all the verbal deals he had made with virtually every major player in the company. James Fullington (Sandman) signed a contract extension. Terry Gerin (Rhino), who was apparently considering making a move to WCW, inked a five-year deal. Don Callis (Cyrus) put on paper a one-year deal although he had verbally agreed to a much longer term. Lance Evers (Lance Storm) only agreed on paper to a 30-day deal, since he had given notice more than a month back. Evers had verbally agreed some time back to stay at least through December, although the written contract wasn't finalized. This puts Evers in a good position because it's well known in wrestling he'll be a free agent in 30 days, which also makes it incumbent upon Paul Heyman to have him either sign a long-term deal or drop the tag titles quickly. If Evers leaves, that means ECW will once again have basically lost both its singles and tag team champions, and planned programs for well in advance out the window, in one fell swoop, and makes any previous PPV plans for 5/14 go out the window.

Heyman initially decided against the obvious reaction, to announce in Buffalo that Awesome was being stripped of the title, and no mention was made on the television show taped that night. Heyman had even decided against having a tournament for the title to culminate on the PPV, which would be the usual pro wrestling reaction, figuring that if Awesome didn't drop it in the ring, the title would be tarnished for some time and he'd just have it vacated until the entire incident blew over and someone was ready to have it and set it up for them to get it at that point.


The first Bischoff/Russo era episode of Nitro was largely considered a major success. The show was built around an old vs. new feud, with them being labeled NB, or New Blood, against the Millionaire's Club. No doubt as a swerve, they changed the original plans and had Bischoff join up with Russo and New Blood against the established stars. The entire show consisted of the big stars being shown up, beaten up, and left laying at the hands of wrestlers that in the past they wouldn't have even intermingled with. Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan in particular were the focus of the show, which wound up turning the entire group babyface even though the idea clearly was to not have any babyfaces or heels in the promotion. Hogan actually laid down for a three count in a non-match with Billy Kidman after turning their past statements about each other into an angle, although it was not in a scheduled match and it was a situation where Hogan actually treated Kidman as a jobber and laid down for a chair shot from Bischoff. Flair even worked a program with the returning Shane Douglas, something Flair had long vowed he would never do, although their first match after hype known mainly on the internet didn't mean anything when it came to heat, ratings, nor was the brawl anything special.

WCW vacated all their titles and announced every title would be decided on the Spring Stampede PPV show on 4/16 in Chicago, but by the end of the final Nitro before the show, only one match was actually announced, Jeff Jarrett vs. Diamond Dallas Page for the WCW title, which is hardly a ticket seller. The rest of the show was to be made clear at the Thunder tapings on 4/11 in Colorado Springs.

Overall the first show was not universally, but largely considered the best Nitro in recent memory and much stronger than a somewhat blase Raw show that opposed it. That was the first time that could be said in a long time. There was a lot happening and it was unpredictable. On the down side, there were far too many insider references that were clearly lost on the live crowd and probably the majority of the television audience. While Bischoff came off as a strong television personality, Russo is not good on television and looked out of place portrayed as one of the two new big stars, since ultimately the show was built around Bischoff, Russo and Hogan, ending when Bischoff destroyed Hogan's limo with Hogan "in it" with a humvee, answering the old who drove the humvee question that 99% of fans had long forgotten. While the overall television was good simply because it was new and because the company's television had been just so awful for so long, the constant references by Bischoff and Russo to having been screwed out of their jobs by the good ol' boys was more self gratification than anything. It's way too early to even gauge their vows to re-invent wrestling and beat the WWF, which they referred to constantly in terms almost acknowledging the WWF as the major league outfit. Clearly it was the kind of show that can't be repeated, as the new storyline allowed them to spend little time on wrestling, and the matches were actually as bad or worse than ever. Because they were doing new programs, all the run-ins in every match seemed okay, but they are less likely to work as a regular television pattern in the long-run. If it's at all possible, the world title actually seemed to mean less after this show than even after Benoit had left the company.

Due to all the publicity, there was about a half-point shift in the ratings, with Nitro doing a 3.06 rating (3.58 first hour; 2.64 second hour) and a 4.6 share. Raw did a 6.17 rating (5.68 first hour; 6.61 second hour) and a 9.4 share. The number of viewers of pro wrestling didn't show a significant increase, with 9.7 million, but during the head-to-head hour, Nitro garnered a noticeable percentage of the audience that had stuck with Raw over the past three to six months, and for the first time since the departure of Chris Benoit and company, there was a huge percentage of the audience that was watching Nitro switching to Raw when the show ended.

Raw's main event, a cage match with Rock vs. Bossman & Bull Buchanan drew actually stronger than usual numbers, a 6.81 final quarter and a 7.40 over-run. The Nitro main event with Sting vs. Page with the winner getting the PPV main event match for the title with Jarrett only drew a 2.46 rating, which was actually the lowest rating any point in the show delivered. Under normal circumstances for the climax of the show to be the lowest rated point would not be considered good, but since numbers were the best since 1/24, and coming off record lows for every show the previous week, the improvement has to be taken as a positive. With all the media hype on the change and curiosity, since the rating was a half-point up from the very start of the show which was evidence from a ratings standpoint it was curiosity from the start rather than a ratings pattern that showed large audience increases based on an angle that worked big. The truth of the matter is that Russo's ability to hype his writing the first time on 10/11 drew a 3.30 rating, which was a three-hour rating and against the NFL, which is easily worth a half point so in comparison this number was nowhere near as impressive. But the starting point really doesn't matter, it's the long-term.

Head-to-head quarters saw Raw at 5.69 (Rock and Vince interview) to 2.65 (Flair, Steiner, Douglas angle); Raw at 5.89 (Opening angle continuing with HHH, Shane & Stephanie plus Edge & Christian vs. X-Pac & Dogg) to 2.50 (Sting vs. Sid, Ready to Rumble premiere highlights), Raw at 5.37 (Angle vs. Godfather) to 2.62 (Hennig vs. Jarrett, Flair vs. Douglas), Raw at 5.71 (Rikishi & 2 Hotty & Tazz vs. Benoit & Malenko & Saturn) to 2.75 (Nash/Awesome angle, Hogan/Bischoff angle) and Raw at 6.02 (Helmsley vs. Michinoku) to 2.46 (Page vs. Jarrett and closing brawl).


What seemed, after the show was over, to be a huge disappointment turned out, a few days after the fact, to be a rousing success.

The 4/7 New Japan show at the Tokyo Dome, billed as "Dome Impact," drew what is believed to be the smallest crowd the promotion has ever drawn in the building. But three days later, when the TV ratings came out, the show was viewed entirely differently.

The prime time Friday night show, a nostalgia trip back to the days when New Japan pro wrestling and Antonio Inoki in the late 70s and early 80s ruled Japanese Friday night television, drew a 15.7 rating for the two hour live special that started at 7:54 p.m. and featured the final four matches on the Dome show. As soon as the rating came in so high, TV-Asahi announced that it would carry another prime time special live from the Tokyo Dome in October. The feeling from a lot of people is that it isn't New Japan pro wrestling that drew the rating but the general public had a lot of interest in the main event.

The show itself at the Tokyo Dome, headlined by Shinya Hashimoto vowing to retire if he didn't finally beat Naoya Ogawa, which he didn't and he won't, drew a crowd announced as a sellout of 60,000, which was clearly a face-saving fake number. The real number was estimated as, depending upon the source, between 35,000 and 50,000, with most estimates closer to the former, and even that figure was somewhat papered. It was the first time for a New Japan Dome show that the entire third base to third base outfield section tickets went unsold, and there were noticeable empty seats even in the rest of the stadium. Even before the rating came out but after the somewhat poor live gate, people were saying, and with accuracy, that most of the hype for the show was not directed toward getting fans to buy tickets to the live event (not that plenty of advertising wasn't out) but of the nostalgia aspect of New Japan being in its traditional old days time slot and having its first live prime time special since 1992. Friday night was considered a terrible night to attempt to draw a Tokyo Dome level number of fans, because the traditional male 20s Japanese fan base usually goes out drinking after work on Friday nights, but still, most excuses like that are still largely because they didn't have a product people wanted to buy tickets to see. But it was why it was expected the television numbers would be more impressive than the live gate. The television commercials on TV-Asahi for the special highlighted Antonio Inoki, the original Tiger Mask and Hulk Hogan, three of the biggest stars during the TV popularity peak of the company so they were selling the idea of wrestling on Friday night and the glory days of New Japan wrestling on TV-Asahi more than on current matches. Hashimoto vowing to retire if he didn't win was a far bigger draw among the general public which believed in the stipulation (although that'll probably be the last time they ever get a rating based on that) than to the ticket buying wrestling fans who have heard far too many retirement stipulations that are never adhered to over the past five years which may have resulted in lack of a ticket sales pick up after Hashimoto made the announcement three weeks ago.

The Hashimoto vs. Ogawa match, which went on last, drew a 24.0 rating, roughly 34 million viewers, which would be the largest rating for any pro wrestling match anywhere in the world that we'd have record of since the October 9, 1986 Antonio Inoki vs. Leon Spinks match, which drew a 28.9 rating. The most-watched U.S. pro wrestling match of modern times would be the 32 million (15.2 rating) that saw the February 5, 1988 NBC live Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan match in prime time, although that 32 million is an audience based on the entire 60 minutes, and logically the Andre-Hogan match itself, was viewed by a slightly larger number of people. For an American equivalent comparison, the rating was for the two-hour special was larger than for the NCAA mens basketball championship game on American television four days earlier. The belief is that among both wrestling and non-fans, Hashimoto will be looked down upon as a liar when he makes his expected return and that his popularity will probably never fully recover, just as Terry Funk (who actually stayed out of action for 18 months in 1983-84 before returning only after shooting two major angles with Bruiser Brody & Stan Hansen) and Atsushi Onita never fully recovered from the popularity loss in Japan after their much ballyhooed retirement matches.

TV-Asahi and New Japan were only hoping for a 10.0 rating. The show did numbers equivalent to the major K-1 shows and may have established Ogawa as the mainstream star of today's Japanese pro wrestling world.

Almost immediately after the match, New Japan officials Seiji Sakaguchi and Tatsumi Fujinami talked about not wanting Hashimoto to retire and that he wrestled a great match in losing to Ogawa. There was talk of having Hashimoto become a protege of Antonio Inoki, which was teased earlier this year and they started an angle in that direction on 4/10 with Inoki inviting him to join UFO, which Hashimoto didn't accept or reject. Fujinami then said that Hashimoto was too young to retire. Riki Choshu has yet to say anything publicly about the retirement. New Japan announced its April tour wouldn't include either Keiji Muto (to give credibility to the idea that WCW signed him away from New Japan) or Hashimoto, but it's hard to believe they could put together a Fukuoka Dome show on 5/5 without both, particularly with Ogawa dislocating his shoulder legit during the match and not being available for the next big event. Reportedly the response from the internet and in letters to the New Japan office is 70-30 asking him not to retire. They are also doing a gimmick where sumo star Chiyotakikai, who is of the Ozeki rank and has done a gimmick where he's part of Team 2000 (similar to Dennis Rodman a few years ago being part of the NWO), and is a long-time pro wrestling fan and Hashimoto was his favorite, said that he should follow American wrestling and come back with a mask as the Great Shinya.

Descriptions were that the line-up was considered so-so, and most of the matches were good, with the main event and the Takashi Iizuka vs. Kazunari Murakami match, both being derived off that awesome tag match on 1/4 in the same building, as being the most heated matches on the show. But with Ogawa's injury, the company comes out of this card with no obvious stadium main events and only a few weeks to get over an as-yet totally unannounced line-up. The undercard gimmick of the top junior heavyweights challenging the heavyweights results in some good matches, but by having the heavyweights win all four matches, ultimately seemed to serve no purpose. The set up almost seemed too easy, with the junior heavyweights already having lost three matches, for Jushin Liger, who faced Kensuke Sasaki in the next to the last match on the show in a battle of IWGP jr. champion against the heavyweight champion in a non-title, for Liger to score the upset, give the jr's some credibility in future matches of this type, and set up Liger as a title contender for a big show later in the year.

The biggest negative on the show was the Great Muta vs. Masahiro Chono match, described as a slow poor match with an even worse finish. Muta's in-ring style when he does the gimmick almost always results in poor matches, but now, at the age of 37, with bad knees, against a banged up Chono, it was even worse, which wasn't good since these are still the two most popular wrestlers in the company. The gimmick of Muta having signed with WCW was attempted to be given credibility by bringing in Paul Orndorff as his manager and Mona as his valet, and doing an American style finish of Muta blowing mist in the referees eyes for a cheap DQ which never gets over on Japanese big shows. We should have a complete report on the final four matches, hopefully in next week's issue.

1. In the first heavyweight vs. junior heavyweight match, Yuji Nagata beat Kendo Ka Shin (Tokimitsu Ishizawa) in 12:16 with the Nagata lock in what was said to have been disappointing.

2. Manabu Nakanishi scored something of an upset pinning Scott Norton in 11:27 after having him up in the torture rack and dropping him for the pin. This was said to have been the worst match on the card with a lot of comments that Norton is now washed up.

3. In the best of the heavyweight vs. junior matches, Don Frye beat Koji Kanemoto in 9:59 with a heel submission. Reports say that Kanemoto did a great job carrying the match, with fast punches, kicks and submissions. This was described as easily the best match on the undercard.

4. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (Kim Kil Choi) pinned Yutaka Yoshie in 12:34 after a diving head-butt. Yoshie returned from a tour of Europe and training in Calgary under Joe Daigo. Yoshie had a flabby looking physique going in but was a solid worker. His physique improved on his return, but his work in this match was disappointing and overall it was considered as a passable match.

5. Satoshi Kojima pinned Shinjiro Otani in 10:06 after a diamond cutter, a brainbuster and a lariat. The match was pushed as a battle of proteges from Animal Hamaguchi's gym. Otani got some early near falls with his flying moves. The match was described as good, but a disappointment considering who was involved.

6. In the first match on television, Iizuka (Takayuki Iizuka) beat Murakami in 11:26 with a choke. They started the TV show hot as Sakaguchi, Fujinami and Ogawa were all at ringside and Sakaguchi slapped Ogawa in the face which led to a major pull-apart. During the pull-apart, Murakami KO'd Iizuka before the bell. They managed to "awaken" Iizuka for the match, described as the most exciting match on the card.

7. Chono beat Muta via DQ in 16:21. It was American style and poor. Muta knocked out the first ref so a second ref came out. Chono piledrove Muta on a table. Muta then blew red mist at the referee, who called for the DQ, and the audience heavily booed the cheap finish.

8. Sasaki pinned Liger (Keiichi Yamada) in 7:40. This was said to have been a stiff ground match trading hard punches by Sasaki and the palms by Liger. Sasaki scored a knockout with two punches, then hit the Northern Lights bomb for the pin. Said to be a good match.

9. Ogawa scored his third Tokyo Dome win in a row over Hashimoto in 15:09. This is actually their fifth Dome main event, an all-time record. In Ogawa's pro debut on April 12, 1997, he won a non-title match over then-IWGP champion Hashimoto before 50,000 at the Tokyo Dome in a match where Ogawa subbed for the originally scheduled Ken Shamrock who signed with WWF before actually signing the contract to do the match. Ogawa didn't draw as well as hoped for in the main event in his debut, but beating the world champion his first night in made him an instant star, and just three weeks later, on May 3, 1997, they sold out the Osaka Dome with 53,000 for the rematch which Hashimoto won. Their famous feud started on January 4, 1999 in their semi-shoot, or however you would describe it, match that will become part of Japanese legend which technically was a no contest but everyone considers that Ogawa won, which actually was not the main event that night before a sellout 62,500. This led to the October 11, 1999 rematch that Ogawa won again. This match was described as a battle between Hashimoto's hard kicks and Ogawa's judo throws. Inoki and Sakaguchi didn't second their respective wrestlers, but both were at ringside watching. The finish was via a ten count knockout after an Ogawa STO judo throw.


As expected, Jushin Liger captured the third Super J Cup. And as many predicted before hand, Cima, who went to the finals, stole the show.

In what was considered a far superior show to the Tokyo Dome card two days earlier, a disappointing crowd of 7,000 fans (announced as 8,059), saw Liger win the tournament as was preordained from the early stages of the planning, which was put together by Yoshihiro Asai (Ultimo Dragon) as J Cup commissioner and Great Sasuke as promoter since the show was under the Michinoku Pro banner. Liger pinned Cima in 12:28 after a brainbuster in what was reportedly a strong match ending a hot card. New Japan had insisted on Liger winning as a stipulation for allowing him into the tournament. Without New Japan involvement, the tournament had little chance of being taken seriously.

Because New Japan, not wanting strong competition for its own big show, didn't allow the rest of its top junior heavyweight contingent (Shinjiro Otani, Koji Kanemoto, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, El Samurai, Kendo Ka Shin) into the tournament, the line-up itself was considered a disappointment to most fans going in. Nevertheless, from our reports, every wrestler that appeared on the show looked really good with the exception of Ricky Fuji, and he was in the only one bad match on the show. There was a lot of blame being put on the Dome show for attracting most of the casual fans, which kept the crowd down for this show. The real problem was really this wasn't a line-up equivalent to the legend of the J Cup, which was two shows in 1994 (won by Chris Benoit) and 1995 (won by Liger) which both sold out the same building, and two best cards of the year awards. The first J Cup went head-to-head with an All Japan show at Budokan Hall during the peak of All Japan popularity, and still easily sold out.

The 4/1 first round of the J Cup airs on Samurai TV on 5/2 and the Sumo Hall matches will air on 5/9.

Cima, 22, considered probably the best young wrestler in the country and reminiscent in the ring of a young Eddy Guerrero, was the wrestler elevated to stardom by going to the finals and having the three best matches in the tournament. He opened beating Onryo of Wrestle Dream Factory in a match that garnered a lot of interest since virtually the entire live audience that never seen Onryo wrestle before and his gimmick got over huge to the point many were rooting for him to go over in the upset, just so they could see him a second time. Onryo does something of a dead man gimmick, with his face painted white except for a dark circle around his eyes and his body mummified. The crowd, largely not knowing what to expect other than a lame gimmick, were impressed with the most agile mummy in pro wrestling history. Cima had some high-pitched cheering, as when he was on top, the women in the audience came alive. In the semifinal, Cima beat Naoki Sano with his mad splash, basically a frog splash off the top.

The best match was actually a ten-man tag featuring wrestlers from seven different promotions that took place before the finals. Tiger Mask & Minoru Tanaka & Masaaki Mochizuki & Shinya Makabe & Ricky Marvin won over Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai & Suwa & Chopinger (Masayoshi Motegi) & Super Boy in 17:18 when Tiger Mask pinned Super Boy with a german suplex.

The eight finalists had all won first round matches on 4/1 in Sendai.

1. In a non-tournament match from the AAA promotion, Abismo Negro pinned Oriental in 7:13 after a tombstone piledriver in what was reported as a good match.

2. Cima (Toryumon) pinned Onryo (Wrestle Dream Factory) in 4:22 with the mad splash.

3. Gran Hamada (Michinoku Pro) pinned Ricky Fuji (FMW) with a swinging DDT in 7:34. Hamada had daughter Ayako Hamada as his second for this match, which was said to be the worst match on the card. Even then, it was considered an average match.

4. In the first round upset, Naoki Sano (Takada Dojo) knocked out Great Sasuke (Michinoku Pro ) in 10:36 after a high kick to the face. Sasuke was laid out and knocked out for the ten count. The crowd popped big for the ending because most fans expected a Liger vs. Sasuke final match, and with Sasuke as the promoter of the show itself since it was under the Michinoku Pro banner, everyone figured there was a good chance that the promoter goes over, or at least goes to the finals before putting Liger over. 5. Liger (New Japan) pinned Mens Teioh (Big Japan) in 7:32 after a brainbuster. Said to be a good match.

6. In a womens match, WWWA super lightweight champion Chaparita Asari retained her title pinning Hiromi Yagi in 9:13 after a sky twister press in another good match.

7. Cima pinned Sano in 12:52 after the mad splash in what would generally be considered an upset.

8. Liger pinned Hamada in 10:02 with a brainbuster in what was called a good match. Hamada was very impressive working a total modern style even though he's 49 years old.

9. The ten-man saw Tiger Mask (Michinoku) & Tanaka (Battlarts) & Mochizuki (Bunkyo Dojo) & Makabe (New Japan) & Marvin (EMLL) over Ka Shin (New Japan) & Samurai (New Japan) & Suwa (Toryumon) & Chopinger (Big Japan) & Super Boy (Michinoku).

10. Liger won the third J Cup in 12:28 pinning Cima after a brainbuster.


"Ready to Rumble," a comedy produced in conjunction with WCW that received mixed reviews, opened at No. 6 in the movie box office listings at $5.6 million which would be considered a decent open.

The movie, clearly playing to all the worst stereotypes about both pro wrestling and the audience that watches it, succeeds in its attempt to be like pro wrestling, but worse, aimed at 16-year-old boys and loaded with sewage site gags. An attempt to make a comedy out of "Wrestling with Shadows," complete with a heel promoter based on Vince McMahon that Eric Bischoff originally wanted to play before he was removed from WCW, a babyface who got screwed, played by Oliver Platt whose portrayal as a wrestling superstar clean cut face who in reality is a cross-dressing, broke, lying, trailer park wino, and Martin Landau as Stu Hart, based on two kids who refuse to believe wrestling isn't fake. In fact, for all the protesting within wrestling about the word "fake," this movie, basically commissioned by a wrestling company, uses the word freely as one of the backbones of the entire plot.

Some critics liked it, comparing it with "Dumb and Dumber," and clearly the movie worked to the audience it aimed. Probably more didn't. The acting was well below "Dumb and Dumber," and the movie reminded me more of those old Santo "B" movies because it was so corny. But whether you liked it or not, it was an affirmation that what people in charge in wrestling, movie people writing about wrestling and the media criticizing the schlock and fans of wrestling really believe pretty much the same thing when it comes right down to it. It wasn't as much that the two kids who believed in wrestling were portrayed as stupid, as that's the old "Dumb and Dumber" routine, but that wrestling itself was portrayed as something that is ultra cool, but only to people stupid and incredibly gullible.

Of course in this movie, the wino goes clean, well, not clean, but clean enough to, after being scared until the finish, to try and do in the evil promoter and arrogant villain (played by Diamond Dallas Page exactly as you'd expect DDP to play himself as a heel wrestler with the belt, and next to Platt, Page is totally credible on the screen as a pro wrestling world champion) with the help of his two friends at the end. As a positive, WCW Nitro itself is perceived as being cool, even if its performers and fans are looked down upon worse than any unthinking media portrayal could. But the movie isn't meant to be taken seriously, just as a series of gags, some of which work, many of which don't.


It is official that the Dream Stage Entertainment promotion will run its first PPV show in the United States, a tape of the 5/1 Tokyo Dome show, to air on 5/13 on satellite systems as well as Cablevision within the United States.

The show features an eight man tournament for DSE's created Pride world heavyweight championship bracketed as Mark Kerr vs. Kazuyuki Fujita, Mark Coleman vs. Akira Shoji, Igor Vovchanchin vs. Gary Goodridge and Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie in the first round. DSE has agreed to the terms that all of Gracie's matches will have no time limit, and no referee or doctor stoppages, which, because it is airing on PPV in the United States, will greatly strengthen the arguments of opponents of the sport, particularly if someone gets injured under these rules. While this has not been announced, it is generally believed that unless the match is quick, that whomever wins the Gracie-Sakuraba match will not advance in the tournament. When Frank Shamrock was contacted about taking Gracie's place on the show, he was contacted about it as if it was a single fight, and not the first round of a tournament.

In hype for the match, Sakuraba claimed that since Gracie is getting his rules, they should have a winner-take-all purse and Gracie claimed to agree to it. In sports in the U.S., there have been occasional events hyped with winner-take-all financial stipulations that have later come out the hype was a work. It is being reported that Gracie's purse for the 5/1 Dome show, which I'd believe to be a greatly exaggerated figure, is $475,000.

With Kerr, Coleman and Vovchanchin all in the same tournament, it is generally believed this is the toughest one-night tournament in the history of MMA and one that nobody has seemingly wanted to go out on a limb to predict the eventual winner. Depending upon what is done about a semifinal opponent is the Gracie-Sakuraba winner doesn't go on, it would appear of the three, Vovchanchin has on paper a great bracketing advantage since the Kerr or Coleman presumably would have to face one another in the semifinals.

In addition, Ken Shamrock returns to MMA competition with a singles match against Battlarts pro wrestler Alexander Otsuka, which was officially announced on 4/11. Another singles match was announced at the same press conference pitting former King of Pancrase Guy Mezger vs. Masaaki Satake of K-1 fame. There was talk that DSE was attempting to get New Japan pro wrestler Tokimitsu Ishizawa, who wrestles as Kendo Ka Shin, who was a former national wrestling champion and a contender for the 1992 Japanese Olympic team, to face Renzo Gracie on the show but it appears that has fallen through. It wouldn't have been a smart match for New Japan to put Ishizawa, simply because of lack of experience at this particular sport, against someone with so much experience and who insiders would say is legitimately the best of the Gracie fighters. Mezger-Satake would appear to heavily favor Mezger, since Satake has very little ground experience and in his first MMA match, was literally run over in a minute by Coleman. Satake is a much larger man than Mezger and more experienced at a higher level of kickboxing, but if the match goes to the ground, it would appear he'd be out of his league.

DSE becomes the first promotion to get on American PPV with an MMA type show with the exception of the established UFC since the final Extreme Fighting Championship PPV show in 1997. The interesting aspect of Cablevision is that they have not broadcast UFC events in about five years as they were the first major cable conglomerate in the United States to pull the plug.

With the exception of UFC, which established itself as the name brand in 1993, all attempts to promote on PPV, even before the political problems constricted the universe, were financial failures because of marginal to awful buy rates. DSE has several strikes against it becoming a success. Attempts to market Japanese events such as K-1, Pancrase and UWFI on American PPV were also ultimately unsuccessful. The two Japanese UFC shows are generally considered two of its weakest shows to date because of the difference in atmosphere. Fights of this type as a rule are more exciting in an octagon as opposed to the traditional ring set up that DSE holds matches in and by and large, most of the Pride events have not been very good. Another strike is that it is on taped delay, and there are no examples since the internet age of a major success when it comes to taped delay PPV events. The plus it has is the actual line-up, for knowledgeable fans, is far stronger than any show UFC has ever presented. Second, it has both Royce Gracie and Shamrock, who were the two biggest drawing cards in the history of the sport. Gracie hasn't been seen on U.S. TV since his April 7, 1995 36:00 draw against Shamrock, which was the most purchased sports PPV with the exception of boxing of the entire decade, and drew numbers just shy of what Wrestlemania did with the far more hyped Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow match days earlier. Shamrock should, if promoted correctly, which is the big if because thus far there has been no American promotion for this company, be a bigger draw today because of his WWF exposure. In addition, a taped show needs a lot fewer buys to be financially successful, but it's easier for hardcore fans to pass up buying a taped show if they know the results and unless word gets out that it's a good card. The success ultimately will be decided upon these factors. Whether DSE can find a way to promote the show to where the news of it, the calibre of the tournament, and the participation of Gracie and Shamrock reaches enough people. Whether Shamrock, who hasn't been on TV for months and wasn't featured as a major player in his last several months in the WWF, can draw curious pro wrestling fans or even curious sports fans to the show based on having a well known name. And finally whether the people with vague memories of 1995 UFC and Royce Gracie, still care enough about the name for that nostalgia drawing power big name fighters and wrestlers from the past sometimes have. Another major factor, maybe the biggest of all, is whether or not the WWF will promote the show, due to the power of their television and ability to hype fights. When Shamrock left, there was talk of promoting his two fights, particularly since at the time DSE and WWF were in negotiations regarding promoting live WWF events in Japan, but those negotiations fell apart and it's been months since the Shamrock name has been mentioned on WWF broadcasts. It's believed McMahon wasn't happy Shamrock left, but had given his blessing that if he wanted to go back, given that because of his age this was really his last chance to make a statement in the sport he was a pioneer in, he'd allow him out of his pro wrestling contract.

The show will air live on PPV in Japan and on a taped delay edited down to 90 minutes on the Fuji TV Network in Japan on 5/6 at 1 p.m.

Stephen Quadros, a martial arts magazine writer, and kickboxing legend Maurice Smith will be handling the PPV commentary.


There was little in the way of good news on 4/3 when it came to ratings. It was expected the cumulative wrestling numbers would be down, even coming the day after Wrestlemania, because of both WCW drawing a weak rating and the NCAA mens basketball championship game.

As it turned out, the basketball (Florida vs. Michigan State) drew a 14.1 rating and 23 share, about what Monday Night Football averaged this past season against wrestling. It was the lowest rated NCAA basketball championship game in history, which seemed to bode well for wrestling. However, WWF Raw coming the day after Wrestlemania came nowhere close to the record numbers people were predicting, scoring right at its average, a 6.44 rating (6.43 first hour; 6.44 second hour) and a 9.4 share. Nitro drew its all-time record low rating for the highlight show, a 1.78 rating (2.28 first hour; 1.32 second hour) and a 2.7 share. As disappointing as the Nitro numbers were, the biggest disappointment of all was the Court TV "Wrestling with Death" special which drew an 0.5 rating. Overall the basketball game drew 20.6 million viewers and the combined audience of the two wrestling shows was 9.0 million.

Last year, the NCAA championship game (Duke vs. Connecticut) drew a 17.2 rating while Raw, which was not the day after Wrestlemania, drew a 6.51 and Nitro drew a 3.51, so in people terms, last year, there were 26.3 million viewers of basketball and 11.6 million of wrestling.

WWF had one weak quarter hour, a 5.94 for the Benoit vs. Tazz match and the interview and angle afterwards with the ladder match participants. The Rock vs. Shane main event drew a 6.51 final quarter but an unusually strong 7.57 over-run considering the competition.

Smackdown on 4/6 drew a 4.55 rating and 7.6 share, down from last week's near record. The good sign is that the rating grew consistently throughout the show, which is the sign of a show the audience stayed interested in, peaking with the Rock vs. Road Dogg & X-Pac doing a 5.38 final quarter with an 8.8 share.

Thunder on 4/5 drew a 1.74 rating, which is its all-time record low in a regular time slot, but considering it was a highlights show, and the second highlights show of the week, and that a highlights show two days earlier drew basically the identical number, that number can't be taken negatively. Not only that, but unlike recent first-run Thunders, the audience grew over the first hour, starting low and peaking at 2.41 in the fourth quarter before dropping with the low segment being the Hogan interview that the entire show was hyped around, which only did a 1.58.

Weekend numbers for 4/8-9 saw Live Wire at 1.8, Superstars at 2.0 and Sunday Night Heat at 2.74. On USA, Live Wire was the highest rated show on the station on Saturday and on Sunday, the two WWF shows ranked No. 1 and No. 3 for the day on the station. WCW Saturday Night did a 1.6 rating, which actually was the third highest rated show on the station for the day.

ECW on TNN on 4/7 drew an 0.9 rating and 1.6 share.

The 4/4 AAA/EMLL block on Galavision drew a 2.0 Hispanic rating and a 5.2 rating within its targeted male 18-49 demographic.


EYADA POLL RESULTS

Results of the poll question on the eyada.com web site. New questions will be up every day at approximately 3 p.m. Eastern time with the results being announced at the start of the Wrestling Observer Live internet audio show the following day as well as each week here.

Which version of the history of modern pro wrestling was more honest? a) WWF Wrestlemania all-day 42%; b) WCW Nitro Russo & Bischoff special 10%; c) Didn't watch Wrestlemania all-day 11%; d) Didn't watch Nitro 15%; d) Watched both, neither was honest 22%

If ECW were to get on USA network in September, how long before it would beat Nitro in the ratings? a) First night 23%; b) Within three months 29%; c) Within six months 19%; d) More than six months 16%; e) It will never beat Nitro 13%

What do you think the 4/10 Nitro rating will be? a) Below 2.5 29%; b) 2.51 to 2.70 26%; c) 2.71 to 2.90 17%; d) 2.91 to 3.10 18%; e) Over 3.11 10%

What has been the best PPV match so far in 2000? a) Mike Awesome vs. Spike Dudley 7%; b) Dudleys vs. Hardys 10%; c) Helmsley vs. Foley Royal Rumble 29%; d) Helmsley vs. Foley No Way Out 17%; e) Dudleys vs. Edge & Christian vs. Hardys 37%

Do you think Mike Awesome should have shown up over the weekend and voluntarily dropped the ECW title? a) Yes if he had a valid contract 33%; b) Yes under any circumstances 52%; c) No under any circumstances 6%; d) No if his contract was breached 9%


This is the second issue of the current four-issue set. If you've got a (1) on your address label, your Observer subscription expires in two more weeks.

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For the latest news, we have several reports daily on the Wrestling Observer Hotline. The numbers is 900-903-9030 in the United States at 99 cents per minute. I'm on option one. Bruce Mitchell is on option two. Georgiann Makropolous is on option three. Bryan Alvarez is on options four and six. Mike Mooneyham is on option five.

New message schedule is: Monday--Meltzer on one, Mooneyham on five; Tuesday--Mitchell on two (Raw report), Alvarez on four (Nitro report); Wednesday--Meltzer on one, Alvarez on four and six (Thunder and Smackdown taping report); Thursday--Mitchell on two (Thunder report); Friday--Meltzer on one, Alvarez on four (Smackdown report); Saturday--Mitchell on two; and Sunday--Makropolous on three, Alvarez on four.

For PPV coverage, I'm on option seven approximately 20 minutes after the completion of the show. We run down the major angles and results right at the start before getting into the details of the show. There are option eight reports up later in the evening to get a different perspective. The reports stay up through the next PPV event.

Upcoming shows covered will be 4/14 UFC Japan (option seven only, up by 2 p.m. Eastern time on Friday), 4/16 WCW Spring Stampede, 4/30 WWF Backlash, 5/1 DSE Tokyo Dome tournament (option seven only), 5/5 New Japan Fukuoka Dome (option seven only), 5/6 WWF U.K. only PPV (option seven only), 5/7 WCW Slamboree, 5/14 ECW Hardcore Heaven, 5/21 WWF Judgment Day and 5/26 Coliseum 2000 Tokyo Dome (option seven only).


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RESULTS

 

4/3 Bahrain (World Wrestling Alliance - 1,000): American Eagle b Bunkhouse Buck, Madd Maxx b Rikki Nelson, Strawberry b Leilani Kai, Craig Pittman b Chris Hamrick, NWA tag titles: Drake Dawson & Curtis Thompson b L.A. Stephens & Bubba Bain, Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson b Reno Riggins & Steven Dunn, Bushwhackers b Solviacks

4/4 San Jose, CA (WWF Smackdown/Sunday Night Heat tapings - 11,833 sellout): Team Extreme b Ballard Brothers, D-Lo Brown b Pete Gas, Kat & Mae Young b Terri & Fabulous Moolah, Essa Rios b Sho Funaki, Hardcore title: Crash Holly b Mark Henry, Val Venis & Stevie Richards b Head Bangers, Viscera b Chris Jericho, IC title: Chris Benoit b Rikishi Phatu, Dudleys b Test & Albert, Bull Buchanan & Big Bossman b Al Snow & Steve Blackman, Lightheavyweight title: Dean Malenko b Taka Michinoku, Big Show b Godfather, Tag title: Christian & Edge b Bob Holly & Kurt Angle, Rock NC X-Pac & Road Dogg

4/4 Sapporo (FMW - 1,200): Kaori Nakayama won Battle Royal, Elimination match: H & Willie Takayama & Hiskatsu Oya & Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Jado & Gedo & Koji Nakagawa b Kodo Fuyuki & Kyoko Inoue & Balls Mahoney & Tracy Smothers & Crazy Boy & Chocoball Mukai & Masato Tanaka

4/4 Mexico City Arena Coliseo (EMLL): Ultimo Dragoncito & Cicloncito Ramirez b Fierito & Vaquerito, Americo Rocca & Damian El Guerrero b Olimpus & Brandon, Starman & Solar & Solar II b El Hijo del Gladiador & Mr. Mexico & Valentin Mayo, Brazo de Oro & Tony Rivera & Mascara Magica b Violencia & Arkangel & Halcon Negro Jr., Atlantis & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Brazo de Plata b Villano III & Gran Markus jr. & Fuerza Guerrera

4/4 Louisville, KY (NWA Ohio Valley Championship Wrestling): Phil Fair b Robert Briscoe, B.J. Payne & Scotty Sabre b Derrick King & Jason Lee to win Southern tag titles, Trailer Park Trash b Jebediah, Nick Dinsmore b Rob Conway, Robbie D b Rico Constantino, Russ McCullouch b Mr. Black, McCullouch b The Collector (Sylvester Terkey), Damaja b Flash Flanagan

4/4 Croydon, England (All-Star Wrestling - 550): Doug Williams b Taigori, Jonny Storm b George Castano, Tatanka b American Dream, Mal Sanders & Rock & Roll Express (not original) b Flash Barker & Stevie Grey, Grey won Battle Royal

4/6 Cleveland (ECW - 1,150): Prodigy b Chilly Willy, Mikey Whipwreck b Johnny Swinger, C.W. Anderson & Bill Whiles b Danny Doring & Roadkill, Yoshihiro Tajiri b Kid Kash, Raven b Little Guido, Lance Storm & Dawn Marie b Nova & Jazz, Tommy Dreamer & Sandman b Vic Grimes & Angel, TV title: Super Crazy b Rhino

4/6 Iwamizawa (FMW): Yoshinori Sasaki b Flying Kid Ichihara, Emi Motokawa b Yuka Nakamura, Willie Takayama b Ricky Fuji, Hideki Hosaka & Koji Nakagawa & Kintaro Kanemura b Chocoball Mukai & Kyoko Inoue & Kodo Fuyuki, Gedo b Crazy Boy, Tracy Smothers & Balls Mahoney & Masato Tanaka b Jado & Tetsuhiro Kuroda & H

4/6 Prince Saultan Airbase, Saudi Arabia (World Wrestling Alliance - 1,000): American Eagle b Chris Hamrick, Madd Maxx b Rikki Nelson, Strawberry b Leilani Kai, Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson b Bubba Bain & L.A. Stephens, NWA tag titles: Drake Dawson & Curtis Thompson b Steven Dunn & Reno Riggins, Bushwhackers b Solviacks, Craig Pittman b Bunkhouse Buck

4/7 Matsumoto (All Japan - 2,400): Yoshinari Ogawa & Masamichi Marufuji b Makoto Hashi & Shigeo Okumura, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Masa Fuchi & Haruka Eigen b Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura, Jun Akiyama b Masao Inoue, Maunukea Mossman & Johnny Smith & Wolf Hawkfield b Takeshi Morishima & Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori, Mike Barton & Johnny Ace b Kenta Kobashi & Kentaro Shiga, Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada b Too Cold Scorpio & Steve Williams, Mitsuharu Misawa b Vader

4/7 Warren, OH (ECW - 1,150): Chilly Willy b Johnny Swinger, Chris Chetti & Nova b Little Guido & Sal E. Graziano, Mikey Whipwreck b Prodigy, Danny Doring & Roadkill b Vic Grimes & Angel, Raven b C.W. Anderson, TV title: Super Crazy b Lance Storm, Tommy Dreamer b Yoshihiro Tajiri, Rhino b Sandman

4/7 Mexico City Arena Mexico (EMLL - 6,500): Fugaz & Enemigo Publico b Sombra de Plata & La Flecha, Virus & Karloff Lagarde Jr. b Astro Rey Jr. & Tigre Blanco, El Satanico & Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero b Safari & Antifaz & Lizmark Sr., Shocker & Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. b Mr. Niebla & Perro Aguayo & Tinieblas Sr., CMLL trios title: Dr. Wagner Jr. & Black Warrior & Blue Panther b Emilio Charles Jr. & Tarzan Boy & Negro Casas

4/7 Noborihetsu (FMW): Yoshinori Sasaki b Flying Kid Ichihara, Emi Motokawa b Yuka Nakamura, Hideki Hosaka b Ricky Fuji, Kintaro Kanemura & Gedo & Willie Takayama b Chocoball Mukai & Kyoko Inoue & Kodo Fuyuki, H & Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Koji Nakagawa & Jado b Masato Tanaka & Balls Mahoney & Tracy Smothers & Crazy Boy

4/7 Kawasaki (Arsion): Akino b Reina Takase, Linda Starr & Candy Okutsu b Ai Fujita & Chaparita Asari, Bionic J & Yumi Fukawa & Etsuko Mita b Hiromi Yagi & Rie Tamada & Gami, Gran Hamada & Ayako Hamada b Gran Apache & Mari Apache, Twin Stars of Arsion tag title: Michiko Omukai & Mima Shimoda b Aja Kong & Mariko Yoshida to win titles

4/7 Eskan Airforce Base, Saudi Arabia (World Wrestling Alliance - 3,000): Ricky Morton b Chris Hamrick, Strawberry b Leilani Kai, Rikki Nelson b Mad Maxx, NWA tag titles: Reno Riggins & Steven Dunn b Drake Dawson & Curtis Thompson to win titles, American Eagle b Bunkhouse Buck, Bushwhackers b Solviacks

4/7 Toms River, NJ (NWA Jersey): Rocco Dorsey b Elephant Man, Equalizer b John Kronus, 911 b Biggie Biggs & Shooting Star, Nicole Bass b Amy Leigh, Rodney & Pete Gas b Earl the Pearl & Rich Myers, Al Grasso b Slayer-DQ, Chris Candido & Tommy Cairo b Pitbulls

4/8 Buffalo (ECW TNN tapings - 3,700 sellout): Chilly Willy b Johnny Swinger, Mikey Whipwreck b Prodigy (Tom Marquez), Rhino b Kid Kash, Danny Doring & Roadkill b Jack Victory & Steve Corino, C.W. Anderson b Raven, ECW tag titles: Lance Storm & Justin Credible b Chris Chetti & Nova, ECW TV title three-way: Yoshihiro Tajiri won title over Super Crazy and Little Guido, Tommy Dreamer & New Jack b Angel & Tony DeVito

4/8 Chattanooga, TN (WCW - 1,339): Norman Smiley b David Finlay, Demon b Hugh Morrus, David Flair & Crowbar won three-way over Stevie Ray & Big T and Rave & Toad, WCW cruiserweight title: Artist b Jamie-san, Maestro b Mr. Jones, Ernest Miller b Maestro, Wall b Bam Bam Bigelow, U.S. title: Jeff Jarrett b Buff Bagwell-DQ

4/8 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (All Japan - 2,100 sellout): Kentaro Shiga & Yoshinobu Kanemaru b Takeshi Morishima & Masamichi Marufuji, Masao Inoue b Makoto Hashi, Tamon Honda & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura b Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Haruka Eigen & Masa Fuchi, Too Cold Scorpio & Mike Barton & Johnny Ace b Daisuke Ikeda & Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori, Kenta Kobashi b Johnny Smith, Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa b Jun Akiyama & Maunukea Mossman, Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue b Wolf Hawkfield & Steve Williams

4/8 Hakodate (FMW): Willie Takayama b Chocoball Mukai, Emi Motokawa b Yuka Nakamura, Ricky Fuji b Crazy Boy, Kodo Fuyuki & Kyoko Inoue b Flying Kid Ichihara & Koji Nakagawa, Gedo & Jado b Yoshinori Sasaki & Hideki Hosaka, H & Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Kintaro Kanemura b Tracy Smothers & Balls Mahoney & Masato Tanaka

4/8 Kawagoe (Gaea): Rie b Saika Takeuchi, Chigusa Nagayo b Chikayo Nagashima, Meiko Satomura & Sakura Hirota b Lioness Asuka & Sonoko Kato, Devil Masami & Sugar Sato b Toshiyo Yamada & Toshie Uematsu, Akira Hokuto & Mayumi Ozaki b Aja Kong & Kaoru

4/8 Yokkaichi (Onita Promotions): Misaki Kana b Akyuto Sae, Fukumen Taro & Kengo Takai b Karasu & Tomoya Adachi, Exciting Yoshida & Shigeo Okumura b Daisaku & Nobutaka Araya, No rope barbed wire street fight tornado death match: Fake Onita & Yoshida & Mitsunobu Kikuzawa & Okumura & Atsushi Onita b Yase Yaguchi & Viking Taniguchi & Great Kendo (Nagasaki) & Shoji Nakamaki & Ichiro Yaguchi

4/8 Kobe (Osaka Pro Wrestling - 421): Masato Yakushiji & Chikako Shiratori b Policeman & Rocca, Naohiro Hoshikawa & Yoshito Sugamoto b Monkey Magic & Kuishinbo Kamen, Buffalo b Mandora-DQ, Dick Togo b Super Demekin, Osaka Pro Wrestling title: Super Delfin b Daioh Qualtt

4/8 Memphis (Power Pro TV): Seven b Blade Boudreaux, 2 Falk 4 Sure b Aristocrat, Regulators b Derrick King to win PPW tag title, Alan Steele NC Lance Jade, Wolfie D b Ali to win PPW title

4/8 South Plainfield, NJ (NWA Jersey): Judas Young b Crazy Ivan, Elephant Man b Rocco Dorsey, Equalizer DDQ 911, Kid USA & Patriot b Rodney & Pete Gas, Chris Candido b Kevin Knight, Nicole Bass b Amy Leigh, Pitbulls DDQ Tommy Cairo & Big Dick Dudley

4/8 Cantonsville, MD (Maryland Championship Wrestling - 500): Christian York b Ricky Blues, Chad & Chip b 2 Dope & Sideswype, Julio Fantastico b Danny Rose, Gregory Martin b Iron Sheik, Fabulous Moolah & Mae Young b Cue Ball Carmichael & Dino Devine, Joey Matthews b Ronnie Zukko, Romeo Valentino b Jimmy Cicero, Adam Flash b Qeenan Creed, Doug Campbell & Bruiser & Corporal Punishment b Platinum Mat & Rich Myers & Earl the Pearl

4/9 Huntsville, AL (WCW - 1,322): Norman Smiley b David Finlay, Demon b Hugh Morrus, Cruiserweight title: Artist b Lash Leroux, Yong Yang & Jamie-san b Rave & Toad, Maestro b Mr. Jones, Ernest Miller b Maestro, David Flair & Crowbar b Big T & Stevie Ray, Curt Hennig won three-way over Wall and Bam Bam Bigelow

4/9 Sendai (All Japan - 3,200): Too Cold Scorpio b Masamichi Marufuji, Wolf Hawkfield b Makoto Hashi, Tamon Honda & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura b Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Haruka Eigen & Masa Fuchi, Maunukea Mossman & Jun Akiyama b Takeshi Morishima & Yoshihiro Takayama, Johnny Smith & Johnny Ace & Mike Barton b Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue & Masao Inoue, Takao Omori b Steve Williams, Daisuke Ikeda & Yoshinari Ogawa & Mitsuharu Misawa b Kentaro Shiga & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Kenta Kobashi

4/9 Kuroishi (FMW): Emi Motokawa & Azusa Kudo b Yuka Nakamura & Willie Takayama, Koji Nakagawa & Tetsuhiro Kuroda d Kyoko Inoue & Kodo Fuyuki, Gedo b Crazy Boy, Tracy Smothers & Balls Mahoney & Masato Tanaka b Yoshinori Sasaki & Kintaro Kanemura & H

4/9 Ueda (Onita Promotions - 2,260): Kaeda b Takao Bushido V-3, Tomoya Adachi won three-way over Fukumen Taro and Karasu, Great Kendo b Daisaku, Exciting Yoshida & Nobutaka Araya b Sambo Asako & Masashi Aoyagi, No rope barbed wire street fight tornado death match: Yase Yaguchi & Shoji Nakamaki & Viking Taniguchi & Ichiro Yaguchi b Fake Onita & Mitsunobu Kikuzawa & Atsushi Onita & Shigeo Okumura

4/9 Mexico City Arena Coliseo (EMLL): El Jeque & Fiero b Pegasso & Alacran, Lady Apache & Flor Metalica b Andromeda & Amapola, Dr. O'Borman Jr. & Chicago Express & Mogur b Super Kendo & Mano Negra Jr. & Kung Fu Jr., Safari & Astro Rey Jr. & Mascara Magica b Rencor Latino & Fuerza Guerrera & Mr. Mexico-DQ, Atlantis & Emilio Charles Jr. & Tinieblas Jr. b Villano III & Shocker & Apolo Dantes

4/9 Tijuana, BC (Lucha Mania International): Thunder Mask b Halloweencito, Condor & Papa Shango (not original) & Rabia b King Dragon & Indio Toro & Espia Oriental, Impostor & Mr. Tempest b Orion & Thunderbird, Mosco de la Merced & La Morque & Venum Black b Brazo de Plata & Mr. Niebla & Raffi El Salsero, Nicho el Millonario (WCW Psicosis) & Negro Casas & Tarzan Boy b Rey Misterio Sr. & Damian & Halloween

4/9 Naucalpan (IWRG): Caballero Azteca & Aspid b Turbo & Avisman, Susumu Mochizuki & Paramedico b Guerra C-3 & Galaxia R-2, Piratita Morgan & Espectrito I & Fuercita Guerrera b Tsuki & Mascarita Magica & Octagoncito, Rody & Bombero Infernal & Dr. Cerebro b Star Boy & Fantasy & Cyborg Cop, IWRG middleweight title: Black Dragon b El Hijo del Diablo

4/9 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (IWA Japan): Asian Cougar & Phantom Funakoshi & Great Takeru b Yuji Kito & Takashi Sato & Ultra Seven, Etsuko Mita b Obacchi Iizuka, Keizo Matsuda & Katsumi Hirano & Jason the Terrible b Shoichi Ichinomiya & Tomohiro Ishii & Kendo Nagasaki, Tiger Jeet Singh Juku (Kiyoshi Asano) & Yoshiya Yamashita & Leatherface b Freddy Kruger I & II & Tarzan Goto

4/9 Odawara (Battlarts - 502): Hiroyoshi Kotsubo b Minoru Fujita, Katsumi Usuda & Mach Junji b Takeshi Ono & Chocoball Kobe, Ikuto Hidaka b Yoshiyuki Saito, Yuki Ishikawa b Mohammed Yone

4/10 Fort Lauderdale, FL (WWF Raw is War - 13,859 sellout): Tag titles: Christian & Edge b X-Pac & Road Dogg, Kurt Angle b Godfather, Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn b Rikishi Phatu & Scotty 2 Hotty & Tazz, WWF title: Hunter Hearst Helmsley b Taka Michinoku, Hardys b Test & Albert, Val Venis b Big Show-DQ, European title: Eddy Guerrero b Chris Jericho, Cage match: Rock b Bull Buchanan & Big Bossman

4/10 Denver (WCW Nitro - 9,074/6,027 paid): Diamond Dallas Page b Lex Luger, Sting b Sid Vicious-COR, Jeff Jarrett b Curt Hennig, Ric Flair b Shane Douglas-DQ, Page b Sting

4/11 Kanazawa (All Japan - 2,800 sellout): Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kentaro Shiga b Masamichi Marufuji & Yoshinari Ogawa, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Haruka Eigen & Masa Fuchi b Tamon Honda & Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota, Johnny Smith & Wolf Hawkfield b Makoto Hashi & Daisuke Ikeda, Johnny Ace & Mike Barton b Takeshi Morishima & Masao Inoue, Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori b Steve Williams & Too Cold Scorpio, Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada b Jun Akiyama & Maunukea Mossman, Kenta Kobashi b Mitsuharu Misawa

4/11 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (FMW - 2,100 sellout): Yoshinori Sasaki b Flying Kid Ichihara, Emi Motokawa & Azusa Kudo b Yuka Nakamura & Kaori Nakayama, Chocoball Mukai & Kyoko Inoue & Kodo Fuyuki b Willie Takayama & Ricky Fuji & Tetsuhiro Kuroda, Hideki Hosaka & Kintaro Kanemura b Crazy Boy & Tracy Smothers, WEW trios title: Gedo & Jado & Koji Nakagawa b Winger & Tomoaki Honma & Ryuji Yamakawa, Balls Mahoney & Masato Tanaka b Mr. Gannosuke & H

 

Special thanks to: Gary Burke, Joe Silva, Mike Omansky, Chris Foltz, Dan Parris, Bobby Baum, Jeff Rudd, Trent Van Drisse, Brian Sangster, John Tovar, Philip Laine, Fumi Saito, Jonathan Browning, Brady Laber, Georgiann Makropolous, Jeff Marek, Bill Walkowitz, Joey Zannino, James Haase, Jeff Beecher, Steve Gerweck, A.F. Ranger, Gene Restaino, Anthony Eastman, Steve "Dr. Lucha" Sims, Dominick Valenti, Colin Priestner, Kurt Brown, Mike Rodgers, Robert Bihari, Guy Rusiski, Shannon Rose

 

JAPANESE TELEVISION RUNDOWN

3/25 NEW JAPAN: 1. Brian Johnston & Takashi Iizuka beat Don Frye & Satoshi Kojima in 12:32. The last 5:00 aired. Iizuka was in almost the entire match. The finish was a big surprise, especially considering the TV main event, as Johnston made Kojima submit with some sort of a double armlock. **; 2. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata beat Masahiro Chono & Tatsutoshi Goto in 16:03. There was a lot of outside interference and at one point in the match there was a free-for-all with all the New Japan vs. Team 2000 guys in there. Match kept going, almost like it was an ECW match. Nakanishi racked Goto for the finish. Only the last few minutes of the match aired and it looked okay. The teams brawled again, leading to Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Nakanishi & Nagata where they did a short tag match for about 2:30 until everyone ran in again. This was starting to look like Nitro by this point; 3. Jushin Liger pinned Shinjiro Otani in 8:44. It's pretty clear all these Liger matches are short because he can't do anything. He's smart enough and works with good enough people that the matches are still okay. They teased an Otani dragon suplex off the apron, but it ended up as a german suplex on the apron. Otani did his springboard dropkick and a great quick german suplex for a near fall. After a springboard flip kick, Liger came back with all the palms and got the pin. ***; 4. Chono & Frye & Scott Norton beat Nagata & Nakanishi & Iizuka in 14:29. The last half of the match aired. This was horrible, missed spots, non selling, like watching the old NWO black & white in a Battle Royal for supremacy. At this point in the show, New Japan was like bad Nitro before it came totally horrible. -*; 5. Kensuke Sasaki pinned Kojima in 25:02 to retain the IWGP heavyweight title. The last 15:00 aired. There's something about these two against each other that doesn't look like it's a world heavyweight title match. I just can't buy Sasaki as a world champion. That said, they had a solid match with a really good finish. Kojima worked on Sasaki's leg including a dragon screw and figure four. Kojima used his diamond cutter (Kojima cutter) off the apron to the floor, and another one off the ropes. Problem is Kojima's move doesn't look as good as the DDP version. Sasaki did a Frankensteiner off the top for a near fall. The finish was strong as they kept trading german suplexes. Sasaki would no-sell Kojima's and get right up and deliver one, while Kojima would sell, but still come back and do it. Then each delivered a lariat and the other kicked out at one. Sasaki went for a Northern lights bomb but Kojima reversed it into the Kojima max (a combination armbar and shoulder lock), but due to all the damage, Kojima collapsed holding the hold. Sasaki gave him a Northern lights bomb and a great looking lariat to get the pin. ***1/4

3/26 ALL JAPAN: 1. Omori beat Akiyama in :07. When Akiyama hit the ring, Omori tried to jump him, Akiyama got out of the way and took over with a jumping knee. He went for the exploder, it was blocked and Omori hit a lariat. He told the ref to call for the bell and then hit a lariat to the back then to the front and got the pin. It was about 22 seconds of action before the bell actually rang, but after the bell it was the quickest match in the history of All Japan and a huge upset. There was a real big pop from the fans so it seemed to work and Akiyama sold the idea that he was stunned and out of the tournament real well; 2. Williams pinned Taue in 15:17. This was a hard match as these guys pounded on each other, but it was kind of slow and the crowd was only so-so into it. It picked up momentum with several near falls at the end. The finish seemed screwed up as Williams went for the backdrop driver, but Taue blocked it. It had been building for that as a finish since he hit a powerslam, an Oklahoma Stampede and a doctor bomb leading to that. Williams didn't sell the block and just got up and did the move again for the three. *1/4

 

MARCH BUSINESS COMPARISONS

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

Estimated average attendance 3/99 13,404

Estimated average attendance 3/00 11,894 (-11.3%)

February 2000 11,842

 

Estimated average gate 3/99 $297,030

Estimated average gate 3/00 $316,296 (+6.5%)

February 2000 $321,816

 

Percentage of house shows sold out 3/99 85.7

Percentage of house shows sold out 3/00 43.8

February 2000 68.4

 

Average Monday night rating 3/99 6.31

Average Monday night rating 3/00 6.39* (+1.3%)

February 2000 5.80*

 

*Because of the change in the format of Nitro, a direct comparison is slightly misleading. A more realistic comparison factoring out that change from last year is that ratings dropped 2.1%

 

**Because Wrestlemania was in March of 1999 and in April of 2000, we will compare figures next month

 

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

Estimated average attendance 3/99 7,934

Estimated average attendance 3/00 1,896* (-76.1%)

February 2000 3,567

 

Estimated average gate 3/99 $178,720

Estimated average gate 3/00 $46,931* (-73.7%)

February 2000 $85,372

 

Percentage of house shows sold out 3/99 21.1

Percentage of house shows sold out 3/00 0.0*

February 2000 0.0

 

Average Monday night rating 3/99 4.09

Average Monday night rating 3/00 2.59 (-36.7%)

February 2000 2.90**

 

Major show 3/99: WCW Uncensored (15,930 sellout/15,334 paid/$367,805/est. 0.77 buy rate/est. $3.69 million)

 

Major show 3/00: WCW Uncensored (2,543 paid/$97,925/est. 0.13 buy rate/est. $605,000

 

Buy rate -83.1%; Overall major event revenue: -82.7%

 

*England tour dates not included in averages

**Because of Nitro switching from a three hour to a two hour format, direct comparisons are misleading. A more realistic figure would be that ratings on Monday have dropped 41.8% compared with one year ago.

 

ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

Estimated average attendance 3/99 2,578

Estimated average attendance 3/00 2,743 (+6.4%)

February 2000 2,865

 

Estimated average gate 3/99 $98,278

Estimated average gate 3/00 $121,157 (+23.3%)

February 2000 $121,350

 

Percentage of house shows sold out 3/99 66.7

Percentage of house shows sold out 3/00 42.9

February 2000 20.0

 

Average television rating 3/99 3.93

Average television rating 3/00 3.30 (-16.0%)

February 2000 3.65

 

Major show 3/99: Budokan Hall (16,300 sellout)

 

NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

Estimated average attendance 3/99 3,762

Estimated average attendance 3/00 3,110 (-17.3%)

February 2000 3,657

 

Estimated average gate 3/99 $162,573

Estimated average gate 3/00 $148,985 (-8.4%)

February 2000 $174,520

 

Percentage of house shows sold out 3/99 66.7

Percentage of house shows sold out 3/00 50.0

February 2000 35.7

 

Average television rating 3/99 3.58

Average television rating 3/00 2.93 (-18.2%)

February 2000 3.23

 

EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

Estimated average attendance 3/99 1,371

Estimated average attendance 3/00 1,843 (+34.4%)

February 2000 1,563

 

Percentage of house shows sold out 3/99 14.3

Percentage of house shows sold out 3/00 42.9

February 2000 37.5

 

Average cable television rating 3/99 ----

Average cable television rating 3/00 1.02

February 2000 1.10

 

Major show 3/99: Living Dangerously (3,900 sellout/$100,000)

 

Major show 3/99: Living Dangerously (4,000 sellout/3,390 paid/$96,400)

MEXICO: The 4/7 Arena Mexico show was fairly quiet, drawing 6,500 fans with the CMLL trios champions Blue Panther & Black Warrior & Dr. Wagner Jr. retaining the title beating Tarzan Boy & Negro Casas & Emilio Charles Jr. in the main event. Tarzan, who even though he's a face, has been booed unmercifully for weeks here as the fans don't accept him as a main eventer, seeing him as a green guy getting a push only because he's good looking. Finish saw Tarzan miss a tope and doing a stretcher job (clearly a planned spot although the way he landed did appear to hurt him) to make it 3-on-2 and the heels went over. Los 3 Guapos (Shocker & Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr.) all destroyed and bloodied up Perro Aguayo in the semi to set up Aguayo vs. Salvaje in a hair vs. hair match to headline 4/14

The 4/21 show will be an eight-team one-night trios tournament with mixed teams (faces and heels together) with Casas (face) & Scorpio Jr. & Shocker, El Satanico & Wagner Jr. & Tarzan Boy (face), Aguayo (face) & Mascara Ano 2000 & Pierroth Jr., Zumbido & Villano III & Fuerza Guerrera (heel), Niebla (face) & Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero, Rayo de Jalisco Jr. (face) & Universo 2000 & Apolo Dantes, Cien Caras (heel) & Brazo de Plata & Atlantis and Felino (face) & Blue Panther & Black Warrior

They are now sub-billing Villano III under the name Rey Arturo, or King Arthur, since Arturo is his first name and he's claiming to be from one of Lucha Libre's royal families. He's getting cheered everywhere but hasn't completed a tecnico turn yet. On 4/9 at Arena Coliseo, he was in the main event and turned on heel partners Shocker and Dantes and on 4/14 he's teaming with Pierroth Jr. & Fuerza Guerrera and will probably either turn on, or be turned on, by them. Do you realize if I was writing that sentence about Nitro in three weeks it would have an entirely different meaning

Mano Negra Jr. deviated the nasal bone taking a stiff kick on the undercard

The episode of "Sabado Gigante," which I believe to be the most popular TV show in Mexico right now, which featured El Hijo del Santo and El Hijo del Diablo argue over Santo's WWA welterweight belt aired over the weekend

Antonio Pena announced that this year's TripleMania would be only one show, and it would be held in Japan in July

Safari is former long-time Monterrey star Panterita del Ring

They are debuting a new wrestler on 4/28 called Neutron. No word who will be under the mask but Santo movie buffs will remember Neutron was one of the leading heels in the old Santo movies

EMLL is actually running shows on three straight nights (4/30 to 5/2) at Arena Coliseo in Mexico City

Oscar Sevilla beat Gran Apache I in a hair match on 3/31 in Ciudad Madero

Canek retained the old UWA heavyweight title beating Tiger Steele from Texas on 4/2 in Minatitlan

Latin Lover returned on 4/6 after knee surgery to do a run-in in a match in Tijuana on an AAA show

4/14 in Tijuana will have Nicho el Millonario (WCW Psicosis) vs. Rey Misterio Sr. in a dog collar match plus El Satanico & Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero vs. Dr. Wagner Jr. & Damian & Halloween and Raffi El Salsero vs. Mosco de la Merced for the AWWA welterweight title.

ALL JAPAN: In a shocker and in what on paper is the weakest Budokan Hall main event in the history of the company, Kenta Kobashi faces Takao Omori in the Champion Carnival finals on 4/15. The tournament elevated Omori, who it's really a stretch to accept as a main eventer. Probably the belief is that Omori gains something even losing in the finals and it puts the belt over strong when the champ also wins the Carnival and they still have Kobashi vs. Jun Akiyama to headline on 6/9

Kobashi pinned Mitsuharu Misawa in his semifinal match with a lariat in 26:08 before a sellout of 2,800 fans in Kanazawa. Omori scored his second major upset in the tournament, pinning Steve Williams in his semifinal match on 4/9 in Sendai before 3,200. It was announced after the 4/7 Misawa win over Vader in Matsumoto that Vader had suffered a broken left elbow and broken wrist from the armbar submission. They announced he'd be having an operation and would be out of action until July at the earliest, and that he & Williams would be stripped of the tag team titles which would be decided at some point during the next tour. We don't have any details on this beyond what has been said in the Japanese media, but my feeling is Vader probably was legitimately injured going into the Misawa match (there were quiet reports of him suffering a shoulder injury a few days earlier) and they used the opportunity to get over submissions, which All Japan fans don't pop for like New Japan fans, since they are rarely used as main event finishers. After Misawa beat Vader with the armbar, the very next night in the Champion Carnival match, Kobashi beat Smith at Korakuen Hall with the same armbar submission after Smith continually blocked Kobashi's favorite lariat. The other tournament quarterfinal match of this past week was Omori beating Mike Barton in Maebashi to get into the match with Williams

After the Carnival final, the next tour will be 5/20 to 6/9, with the big show on the final night at Budokan Hall. . This doesn't bode well. The debut in the new Wednesday 1:30 a.m. time slot, even with the Misawa vs. Kawada match, drew a 2.6 rating. Unlike in the past when the big Budokan Hall main events usually aired on a tape delay either on the night, or at most on a two night tape delay, the next Budokan show on 4/15 main event doesn't air on TV until 4/26.

NEW JAPAN: Tatsumi Fujinami announced his retirement at a 4/5 press conference but it was only to announce a retirement tour. As we've seen with the Antonio Inoki final countdown and the Perro Aguayo farewell tour, these things can go on for years. Fujinami said his front office duties preclude him being able to train and wrestle regularly. Even though Fujinami was the No. 2 man on the totem poll in the promotion during the early 80s glory period (Riki Choshu was really No. 2 but he was lower on the totem poll), there hasn't been much interest in him in years. Fujinami may have been the best worker in the business in 1988, but in doing so, suffered a serious back injury that at the time was thought to be a career ender. He came back, but was never the same, so being a shell of a former great worker for a decade has damaged his luster and going in there is no major emotion regarding him and his career since it's been so long and the newer fans never saw the "great" Fujinami, so they have to create emotion. Originally Fujinami was going to wrestle Bob Backlund at the 5/5 Tokyo Dome, but it was announced that Backlund had signed with the WWF, and with New Japan's political affiliation with WCW, that killed the possibility of putting it together. Fujinami is trying to wrestle an old rival from early in his career and names brought up include Gran Hamada, Canek and Chavo Guerrero (the father of the current WCW wrestler). Hamada (49) and Canek (47 listed but he may be older) are still active wrestlers and Hamada is still a very good worker while Canek's gimmick of being the agile powerhouse in Mexico from the late 70s and early 80s is long since gone. Chavo Sr., who would be 50, now works as a security guard at the Excalibur hotel in Las Vegas. Most current Japanese wrestling fans except for the older fans and the super hardcore fans don't even know who Chavo Guerrero or Canek are. It was also announced that Cima, Suwa and Sumo Dandy Fuji would debut in the New Japan rings at the Fukuoka Dome show in a six-man tag against New Japan junior heavyweights, and most likely some of the Toryumon wrestlers would be part of the Best of the Super Junior tournament on the following tour

The next tour will be 4/14 through 4/30 with both Muto and Hashimoto off the tour so it's the uncharismatic New Japan bunch against Team 2000 still as the main program. The Young Lions tournament will take place throughout the tour with Masakazu Fukuda, Katsuyoshi Shibata, Kenzo Suzuki, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shinya Makabe and Wataru Inoue. The championship match will be 5/5 at the Fukuoka Dome

Kazuo Yamazaki, who had his final match on 1/4 at the Tokyo Dome, had a retirement party on 4/8 in Yokohama with all the major New Japan officials and wrestlers attending

The annual Super Juniors tournament will take place in late May and early June

4/1 TV show did a 3.4 rating.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Hiromichi "Kodo" Fuyuki is retiring again. After losing a loser leaves town match in November, and coming back weeks later, he put up his career for matches on 4/3 and 4/4 in Sapporo. His ECW Japan won four of seven singles matches over FMW on 4/3, but in a 14-man elimination tag team match which lasted 70:00, with Fuyuki & Kyoko Inoue & Chocoball Mukai & Balls Mahoney & Tracy Smothers & Crazy Boy & Masato Tanaka vs. Gedo & Jado & Koji Nakagawa & Willie Takayama & Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Hisakatsu Oya & H, it came down to himself and H. H pinned him and Fuyuki then announced his final match would take place on FMW's next big show on 5/5 at Tokyo Komazawa Olympic Park Gym. After the match, Tanaka and Mahoney attacked Fuyuki for losing but Inoue and Mukai saved him and H also helped Fuyuki. Fuyuki's so-called retirement match takes place one day after the 20th anniversary of his pro debut in 1980 and six days before his 40th birthday, although they've now added a stipulation to that in that he'll face Kuroda for the vacant WEW heavyweight title on the show, and if he wins the title, he doesn't have to retire. The second Sapporo card consisted only of a Battle Royal featuring the men in FMW not in the elimination match and their regular women wrestlers, and the long main event. FMW announced from 4/25 to 5/5 it would have Mike Awesome as the ECW world champion on the tour. The plan at one point was to do a back-and-forth title switch in Japan and the United States involving Masato Tanaka, with a switch on 5/5 at Tokyo Komazawa Olympic Park Gym, but that obviously has been blown out of the water. Scheduled for the tour are Mahoney, Crazy Boy, Willie Williams (the karate star in his early 50s who had the famous 1980 match against Antonio Inoki) and Tarek Pasca (Ohio indie wrestler Tarek the Great). FMW is creating its first Hardcore tag team title with a match on 4/25 in Shibuya with Kintaro Kanemura & Takayama vs. Hideki Hosaka & Yoshinori Sasaki. Hisakatsu Oya is out of action after breaking his right elbow on 4/4 in Sapporo. On the 4/11 Korakuen Hall show, Gedo & Jado & Koji Nakagawa retained the WEW trios titles against Big Japan wrestlers Winger & Tomoaki Honma & Ryuji Yamakawa. In the main event, Mahoney & Tanaka beat the returning Mr. Gannosuke & H

With the open of the baseball season this week, Cima threw out the first pitch of the season at the Nippon Ham Fighters home opener on 4/9 at the Tokyo Dome and Andy Hug threw out the first pitch at Chiba Marine Stadium. It was said to be the first time Hug had ever attended a baseball game since they don't have the sport in Switzerland

The injury that kept Magnum Tokyo out of the J Cup was a broken arm. He's not expected back to the ring until August

Michinoku Pro, Battlarts and Arsion are working together for a tournament on shows with all three promotions called the Prince & Princess Mixed Grand Prix. The tournament will start on the 5/11 Battlarts show with the semifinals and finals on 6/29 at Korakuen Hall. There are 14 teams and the rules of the match are that the men can't pin the women to win the match. Teams are Alexander Otsuka & Mariko Yoshida, Minoru Tanaka & Yumi Fukawa, Masao Orihara & Etsuko Mita, Tsubo Genjin & Gami Metal, Takeshi Ono & Bionic J, Yuki Ishikawa & Aja Kong, Mohammed Yone & Rie Tamada, Tiger Mask & Hiromi Yagi, Katsumi Usuda & Chihiro Nakano, Great Sasuke & Chaparita Asari, Gran Apache & Mari Apache, Ikuto Hidaka & Akino, Minoru Fujita & Ai Fujita and Gran Hamada & Ayako Hamada

Bull Nakano, 32, is very serious about becoming a pro golfer. She's tried out in the past for the womens Japanese tour and hasn't come close but apparently is putting a lot stronger effort into it as something that isn't a publicity stunt anymore

A correction regarding PPV in Japan. WCW is the only American company that has PPV shows in Japan with Sky PerfecTV. ECW had them, but were cancelled after the November to Remember show

Atsushi Onita started Meikai College in Urayasu (a Tokyo suburb) on 4/8 studying economics

Three wrestlers from Combat Zone Wrestling came to Big Japan for the 4/5 show in Nagoya and to start the feud off the right way they were put over Tomoaki Honma & Jun Kasai & Ryuji Yamakawa

Michiko Omukai & Mima Shimoda won the Twin Stars of Arsion tag titles from Aja Kong & Mariko Yoshida on 4/7 in Kawasaki. Also on that show were a pair of father/daughter teams with Gran Hamada and daughter Ayako over Gran Apache and daughter Mari

On the 4/11 LLPW show in Tokyo, Rumi Kazama brought in Takako Inoue as her mystery partner in the main event to beat Harley Saito & Noriyo Tateno.

HERE AND THERE: Janet Munn, representing Terry Bollea and Steve Borden, made her arguments to dismiss them from testifying in the Tiffany Eunick murder case on 4/5 and Jerry McDevitt was to make a similar argument on 4/11 which wound up with Judge Joel Lazarus quashing the subpoena for all three to testify in the case

Andy Rooney on "60 Minutes" on 4/9 did his commentary about pro wrestling. It was amazingly dated. He showed a bunch of WWF and WCW clips where blows didn't actually land and were still sold, to show that pro wrestling wasn't real sport, showed a few pro wrestling spots which couldn't happen if it was real life, then questioned how stupid the audience must be if they spent money on something so obviously contrived, almost like he was the producer of "Ready to Rumble" and said wrestling's ratings must be the evidence of the lack of intelligence of our culture. To do a piece this simplistic about pro wrestling in 1975 wouldn't have been good, but to do it in 2000 when pro wrestling so unabashedly admits it is theatrics and not pure sport, was embarrassing, particularly since pro wrestling is an industry ripe for some very interesting observations and investigations if they just spent a few minutes investigating before speaking

Add Ric Flair, Perry Saturn, Tom Prichard, Woman, Ricky Steamboat and Eddy Guerrero to the list of those confirmed for the Brian Pillman Memorial show on 5/25 in Cincinnati

Add Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Taka Michinoku, Sho Funaki, Stevie Richards, Bull Buchanan and Maunukea Mossman to the list of those who will be appearing on the Gary Albright Memorial show on 4/19 at the Allentown, PA Ag Hall. Steve Williams, who was a good friend of Albright's as they were college wrestling rivals at Oklahoma and Nebraska at heavyweight in the early 80s and later tag team partners in Japan, said in Japan this past week that they wanted to make this an annual show. Samu is putting together a line-up for the show. Matches confirmed involving WWF talent are Rikishi vs. Road Dogg, Guerrero vs. Jericho, Taka & Funaki vs. Head Bangers, Buchanan vs. Richards and Scotty 2 Hotty vs. Gangrel. Also on the show will be Sabu vs. Crowbar, a three-way with Williams vs. Mossman vs. Johnny Smith, Headshrinkers vs. Axl Rotten & Big Dick Dudley, three-way with Samoan Storm vs. Lucifer Grimm vs. Gillberg, Jimmy Snuka & Doink the Clown vs. American Society, Kattra vs. Sweet Destiny and Too Cold Scorpio vs. Sugaaa

MSNBC did a piece with Geraldo Rivera and Catherine Crier also as a build-up to the Court TV special, with Bill Apter representing wrestling. We haven't seen the piece but were told Rivera and Crier never let Apter make any of his points in defending wrestling before cutting him off

Sabu's Stampede Wrestling debut is now 4/20 in Medicine Hat, Alberta and will do the TV tapings the next night in Calgary

Steven Dunn & Reno Riggins won the NWA tag team titles on 4/7 at the Eskan Airforce Base in Saudi Arabia over Drake Dawson & Curtis Thompson

Superstar Billy Graham's autobiography at this point looks to be released in October

In Xtreme Pro Wrestling's debut show on 4/15 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, they are listing Chris Candido vs. Shane Douglas for Candido's XPW title as the main event, plus Supreme vs. Axl Rotten in a barbed wire thumb tacks, nails, glass, light bulbs match and are giving away a free video of the first two weeks of their TV show to everyone who buys a ticket to the event. XPW is attempting to bring in Sybil Danning, the action movie star, to become a manager for a heel named Tool who will be a takeoff on the character Kane in WWF. Rob Black, a noted porn star who owns the company, responded to the ECW lawsuit threats by cutting a wrestling promo (which is now becoming standard operating procedure) on the internet claiming he was going to introduce a new character called Gay Lee Dangerously, with a hat, a ponytail, a cell phone and a vibrator as his gimmicks, who will cut promos from sets made out to be gay adult video stores

The commission in the state of Washington is now mandating no blood and that there has to be an ambulance standing by at every match, which is about a $150 per show expense added on

According to Ring Around the Northwest, Oregon commissioner Jim Cassidy, who took over for Bruce Anderson, and has unofficially changed the blood policy to blading being illegal but blood being okay, has wound up with blood on almost every show in Oregon. The wrestlers have been cutting themselves beforehand and allowing the cut to re-open in the ring. Whatever your feeling on blood in wrestling is, these regulations need to make sense. If there is going to be blood, blading is the safest way, even if it is barbaric to an outsider. If there isn't going to be blood because of whatever reason is being used, then that's a call as well but regulation of wrestling has to look at the realities of what wrestling is and what wrestlers will do in practice when regulations are enforced a certain way. Cassidy is already feeling heat from boxing circles after an article in CyberBoxing news where it came out that a manager of a boxer that tested positive for marijuana cut and pasted the results of a negative drug test from another fighter onto the drug screen and faxed them to Cassidy, who didn't double check them, and they also came across a show in Oregon that featured three boxers all on the list for medical suspensions due to recent knockouts

El Hijo del Santo and Solar are coming in from Mexico over the next few weeks for matches in California and the Northeast

Hardcore Wrestling on 4/28 in London, ONT at the Ice House is headlined by Greg Valentine vs. Tito Santana plus George Steele, Bastion Booger, Gillberg and Bushwhackers., Guelph

There will be a memorial show for Dan Curtis, a former promoter and manager in the Michigan indie scene on 4/14 in Troy, MI at Athens High School benefitting the Ronald McDonald Foundation of Detroit, featuring Marty Jannetty and Tommy Rogers

The San Antonio Express-News ran a story about Shawn Michaels' students and the TWA. Shooter Schultz and Kris Schultz, 25, of St. Louis and American Dragon is Brian Danielson, 18, from Washington who was an honors student in college who quit to train under Michaels. Danielson in the article bragged about the fact he had already suffered three concussions in three months in the ring

Sabu worked as a surprise on the 4/8 Jersey All-Pro Wrestling show in Bayonne. The main event was billed as a three-way dance with Low Key against two mystery opponents. They turned the lights off and brought out the first guy, who was Billy Reil. The lights went out and Sabu came out to what as you'd figure was a gigantic pop. One would think, but this is the business side talking, that it would be better if an indie promotion had Sabu to advertise the hell out of it beforehand and try and use the name to actually sell tickets, as opposed to not advertising because it would deliver a gigantic momentary surprise pop by keeping it a secret. Sabu's mother on 4/4 underwent triple bypass heart surgery and was still hospitalized as of the weekend

IWF on 5/6 in Nutley, NJ at the High School features Nicole Bass and former 1991 Nutley High graduate Kevin Knight as the headliners

Both PPW titles changed hands on the 4/8 TV show. The tag titles, which were held by Derrick King & Moondog Spot, went to The Regulators (one of which was the former WWF Sir Mo) in a handicap match over King when Spot didn't show up. The PPW title went to Wolfie D over Ali when the lights went out, and when they went on, D was covering Ali for the pin

A sign of the times. At the 4/8 NWA New Jersey show in South Plainfield, NJ, at the elongated intermission where the wrestlers take polaroids with fans in the ring for $5 or whatever is being charged, the line to take photos with Pete Gas & Rodney was much longer than the line for photos with Chris Candido and/or Tammy Sytch

Dr. Daniel Bukantz, whose son Jeff was a world class fencer and is a long-time contributor to this publication, was elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Dr. Bukantz fenced on the 1948, 1952, 1956 and 1960 U.S. Olympic teams and referees in every Olympics from 1964 through 1984

Tom Minichiello, who was very well known in wrestling circles in the 60s and 70s as his Mid-City Gym in Manhattan was the workout spot for all the top WWWF wrestlers, underwent heart bypass surgery on 4/7

Cleveland All Pro Wrestling on 5/27 at the Masonic in Lakewood, OH headlines with Tommy Rich and Tracy Smothers

Dory Funk will be holding his largest camp from 4/23 to 4/29 with 36 wrestlers including Josh Wilcox, Fred Curry Jr. (the grandson of Wild Bull Curry) and Chris the Bambi Killer all the way from Austria

Millennium Wrestling Association on 4/30 in Enfield, CT at Polish National Home for a 3:30 show, 5/12 in Meriden, Ct at Platt High with Yokozuna, Justin Credible and Tony DeVito, 5/19 in South Windsor, CT at the High School with Tatanka and Yokozuna and 5/20 in Westerly, RI at the High School with Tatanka and Yokozuna

ICP canceled the first three shows of its planned tour but the rest of the tour is still scheduled to take place.

ECW: The original idea for the 5/14 PPV was to have the show at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City since it's one week after WCW is running Slamboree at Kemper Arena. However, WCW had a 30-day before and after exclusivity clause with the city owned buildings in Kansas City which both are, basically meaning that in its contract to put on the PPV show on 5/7. The entire reason ECW was looking to do this was to outdraw WCW head-to-head on a major show in the same market, so running in a smaller non-city owned building such as the arena they ran their first K.C. show in that held 1,500 or even the old Memorial Hall which for years in the old days was "the wrestling building" in that city would defeat the entire purpose

At this point the leading candidates for the site are Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Washington, DC and East Rutherford, NJ (the convention center as part of the Meadowlands Complex)

Mike Awesome vs. Tommy Dreamer was the scheduled headline match so the entire card is up in the air right now, particularly with the questionable status of Storm. The big thing on the show now will be the return of Van Dam

TNN tapings for this coming week were done on 4/9 in Buffalo, NY before a packed house of about 3,700. The taping was totally overshadowed by what happened backstage in regards to the news about Awesome and attempting to get everyone to sign valid contracts before allowing them on television. The phase out of Raven continued with him putting over C.W. Anderson due to interference from the Baldies, and Dreamer made the save for him. The Impact Players beat Nova & Chris Chetti in a match designed to start the build-up for a six-man on the PPV with Dawn Marie and Jazz involved but the tag titles at stake because Heyman may need to get the belts off the Players by that point. Tajiri won the TV title in the three-way over Crazy and Guido when Crazy was pinned after Rhino gave him a piledriver through a table. The match was a bloodbath. The Network beat up on Crazy until Sandman came in. This set up Rhino taking ref H.C. Loc and putting both he and Sandman through a table. Cyrus than announced at Cyberslam that Tajiri would hand the TV title belt over to the network, which at least on the surface seems like a sure fire Tajiri turn when he refuses to do so, but they may swerve that as well. Van Dam and Scotty without a last name cleaned house of everyone but Rhino and Van Dam and Rhino squared off until Cyrus called security in to break it up. The description was the angle went too long like and wasn't as good as it sounds, but it should look good in television form. Main event saw Dreamer come out for a match with the Baldies without a partner, until New Jack arrived in his first appearance since the PPV injury. Grimes ran off so it turned into a regular tag with Dreamer & New Jack going over

There was a backstage incident with Grimes and New Jack. The two had apparent heat even before the bump but Jack pushed him and cut a promo on him. New Jack was said to have looked like he was still showing the effects of the concussion and had lost some weight

Justin Credible missed both Cleveland and Warren, OH because his wife gave birth, so with he, Awesome and New Jack were not there and made for weaker than usual line-ups

4/7 ECW show on TNN from Richmond was so-so. It opened with Raven doing an interview saying he didn't put the hit on Dreamer. Raven is still looking really old on television for his character. Francine said she didn't either and twice said that she was a baldy herself, and got mad at Styles for accusing her. The Baldies then jumped Raven when he made a comment about Angel's mother. They cut away from the angle before it even got heated for comments from James Vandenburg, who was in the balcony with strings attached to Mikey Whipwreck like he was a puppet. It was funny. Vandenburg's character seems to be taken from a character on the HBO series "Oz." Corino beat Kash in 5:40 when Rhino speared Kash. Does anybody else cringe every time Kash does a good move because you know Styles is going to scream "Kash is money" right after it? Cyrus told Guido he was going to win the TV title next week in the three-way dance and said he and Tajiri would take out Crazy and then Tajiri had agreed to do the honors. Cyrus then went to Tajiri and you can guess what he told him. Cyrus was hilarious because he told Guido he'd make him a young Italian babyface like Bruno in 1963 and then told Tajiri they'd put him over because he attracts the important young Japanese girl demographic. Crazy pinned Whipwreck in 4:34 with a quebrada off the top rope. Wrestling was good but the Richmond crowd wasn't into the show or this match in particular. Dreamer did an interview and called Raven a 36-year-old in a pill induced stupor and said that Raven needs Dreamer because everywhere he goes and everything he does without Dreamer never gets over. This is a total phase out of Raven, who it is clear won't be in the company after August and isn't about to get any meaningful push until that point. TV main was Dreamer & Sandman vs. Baldies. They only aired 2:30 of the match, which probably tells you all you need to know about the match. Dreamer & Sandman were getting pounded when Raven came in and hit the DDT on DeVito for the pin. Raven and Dreamer were about to square off when Awesome and Jeff Jones came out. Jones said he was the one who placed the bounty and Awesome then destroyed both Raven and Dreamer, putting both through a table with power bombs. Jones then explained why he put the bounty up on Dreamer. Well, because they had no idea how to do an angle for the PPV. No, he didn't say that, but he might as well with the lame explanation they scripted for him, which was that he was watching tapes of old wrestling territories and the managers always put up bounties so therefore. Jazz challenged Dawn Marie and Rhino challenged Rob Van Dam. I'm sure we'll be seeing the former very soon. The latter wasn't supposed to be coming as soon as you think, but at this point, all bets on anything are off

Regarding the stats in this issue, if you include the live attendance at both company's respective PPV shows in the average house show attendance for the month of March, ECW would actually be ahead of WCW. Including the Danbury, CT Living Dangerously event, ECW averaged an estimated 2,036 paid per live event in March. Including the Uncensored show in Miami, WCW averaged 1,932 paid per show. This would hardly be the first time WCW finished behind a company other than WWF in recent years for monthly attendance. From late 1993 through 1995 when AAA ran house shows in the United States, it drew a far higher average per event attendance, partially because it ran only a few major events, than either WWF or WCW did at the time and easily outdrew WWF in Los Angeles (WCW didn't even run the market except for one Hogan vs. Flair match that drew only 2,400 fans and a free PPV event) as a regular city. Even in 1995, when WCW ran a free outdoor PPV show from Huntington Beach, CA the day after AAA ran a house show at the Sports Arena with high ticket prices, the number of fans actually at each event were 9,000 for the free WCW event headlined by a Hogan vs. Vader cage match and 8,500 for the AAA show headlined by a three-way with Konnan, Cien Caras and Perro Aguayo in a cage. At one point in the first six months of 1994, AAA, running something like six house shows during that period actually drew more money at the gate in total than WCW, which was running a full schedule. There was a month or two period in late 1993 when WCW was averaging less fans per live event than Smoky Mountain so by that standard it would have been the No. 4 promotion. However, because WCW had more television exposure nationally, none of those factors constituted that WCW wasn't the No. 2 promotion in the United States even at that time

The British tabloid The Mirror ran an item about ECW because its video games just went on sale in Britain. Can you point to the inaccuracies in this description: "A barbaric form of wrestling in which competitors attack each other with machetes and razors has arrived in the U.K. Wrestling is a big hit in America and now a video game of the bloodthirsty `sport' is going on sale here. There are versions for Sony Playstation, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast and Game Boy--raising the fear that youngsters will be exposed to scenes of savage violence. ECW contestants aim to inflict so much pain on rivals that they have to throw in the towel. In addition to weapons associated with street gangs, the wrestlers have used cheese graters and barbed wire. Fights often finish with opponents covered in blood and with broken glass and nails sticking out of them. Organizers say the contents are legal because they exploit a loophole in the law, which classifies wrestling as sports entertainment and free from strict regulations governing contact sports." Well, they do use cheese graters and barbed wire, and opponents often have blood, but nails sticking out of them? The article also failed to point out that ECW TV already airs in England on the Bravo Channel

Paul Heyman has made legal threats to Juggalo Championsahit (not a spelling error) Wrestling, the tour promoted by ICP if they use Sabu.

WCW: The plans now are to pare the schedule down from 18-21 shows per month down to 13-15. The idea is to run the Monday and Tuesday tapings plus one PPV per month, and every other weekend run two major market house shows in which all the top talent would appear similar to WWF. Right now the WCW Saturday Night tapings are up in the air. The 4/12 show in Vail, CO was canceled and for the next several weeks the Saturday show is going to be a recap show with no first-run matches. The final decision as to what to do with Saturday Night hasn't been made. There is also a decision, because of the show doing generally weaker ratings often than every show on the station all day, to move the show to a Saturday morning time slot and at that point the show would become even less of a priority than it already is

Nitro on 4/10 in Denver drew 9,074, which was 6,027 paying $168,749. Locally the show heavily pushed Goldberg, who appeared after TV ended, which is why there were so many chants for him during the show. Show opened with most of the wrestlers in the ring for a team meeting. Jarrett introduced Russo as the guy who turned the WWF around and called him Vince McMahon's best kept secret. Russo came out to the Road Warriors entrance music (this is where internet rumors of the Road Warriors appearing were, because their entrance music was going to be used) and put over the wrestlers who left the company like Benoit, Malenko, Saturn and Guerrero. That was surreal. Then he talked about getting screwed by good ol' boys while a great percentage of both the live and TV audience had no clue what he was talking about. He then talked about how they tried to fire Steiner which confused people even more. Bischoff came out to tease a confrontation, but they hugged and said they were working together. They ran down Sting, Hall, Nash, DDP, Sid, Hogan and Flair, which set up the feud between the Millionaire Club and New Blood World Order. Russo ripped on Flair. They announced all the titles were vacated. Jarrett and the Harris Twins gave their belts back. Bischoff told Sid to give the belt back. When Sid was teasing he was going to hit Bischoff, Bischoff made a comment about him not having scissors. It was not the first nor the last comment on the show which saw the announcers go crazy, the audience live not reacting at all, which made the announcers appear that much more like they were overhyping nothing, and nobody explaining anything. Bischoff was clearly so stunned that the crowd didn't react to the scissors line that he must have thought they didn't hear it the first time, so he said it again, also to no reaction. Sid ended up giving him the belt. Then they announced a tournament for the title and of course, with the exception of Jarrett, nobody under 39 was invited and every match was the same as the last Russo world title tournament. All bad matches, all run-in finishes. It was okay for this show because everything was new, but they have to guard against it become the "style" because the result will be the same as it was last time. Page beat Luger in 4:23 when Bagwell came out for no reason and distracted Luger, so Page gave him a low blow. Bagwell tried to sexually molest Liz, and Luger was distracted and Page hit the diamond cutter. Page looked as though he was nowhere close to being ready to work. Abbott came out and tried to do a promo clearly scripted by Russo. He said something about not knowing a wristlock from a wristwatch, which was a line Gorilla Monsoon used to say 300 times per show. Actually I wonder what percentage of today's wrestlers would actually know a wristlock? Fans chanted for Goldberg as he made it clear he was going to beat up civilians until Goldberg showed up to fight him. His first victim was Mark Madden. Unfortunately, in doing so, he tore Madden's shirt off. Madden actually got a bloody nose from the first punch. Typical short-sighted thinking as it pertained to making the announcers look like clowns. I was impressed because they booked an angle that'll play out over a month plus as opposed to one blown off later in the same show, and they have Abbott positioned almost as he should be. It may not be too late for them to build heat for Goldberg vs. Abbott but it is too late to ever draw serious money with it. The announcers have to have a measure of, and credibility isn't the word, but something resembling that, because they are the voice of the promotion to tell fans something is important and to buy the PPVs. If they are portrayed as clowns, nobody takes seriously what comes out of the mouths of clowns and again that was a big part of the problem over the past year to begin with. Hogan met with Bischoff backstage and Bischoff served him into thinking he was on his side. The heel promoter gimmick is back. Kidman did an interview ripping on Hogan. The fans didn't pop at all, because they largely didn't know about anything he was talking about. Kidman called out Hogan, who nicely wore a white shirt the better to show the blood with. Kidman jumped Hogan, until missing a move. Hogan then treated Kidman like a jobber until Bischoff hit Hogan with a chair. They showed the replay of this numerous times so everyone could see Hogan do the blade job right before the chair hit. Kidman crawled on top and Bischoff counted to three. Hogan is still the smartest man in wrestling. He has the whole locker room thinking he put Kidman over, and he has every fan watching, similar to when Scott Hall used to "put over" Chris Jericho and Hector Garza or Kevin Nash with Rey Misterio Jr. or Kidman with DDP for that matter was the same deal, thinking that the other guy wasn't even a threat to being a top guy because of how the confrontation went. Actually in this case, Kidman probably did gain a little just from the rub from Hogan, but anyone who says Hogan put over Kidman doesn't know what the word put over actually means. Flair came out next. Flair, Hogan and Nash were sadly the only wrestlers the crowd popped for. He called out Russo, but instead Steiner came out and reprised his greatest interview of the year. While Flair stood there with his thumb up his ass, Douglas jumped him. Whoopie, another internet angle. Nobody in the building had a clue or cared. Bret Hart was in the stands. They wanted him in the rafters but he vetoed it recognizing how people would take that. Douglas did a promo, with them doing the idea that he didn't work for WCW, and Gene Okerlund overacting. Sting beat Sid via count out in 6:15 when Wall came out and choke slammed Sid through a table after hitting him with a lousy chair shot. Flair challenged Douglas. They showed scenes from the "Ready to Rumble" premiere which gave us glimpses of not only Rena Mero, but also Jason Hervey, and showed David Arquette with help from DDP hitting Jarrett with a guitar to set up the Thunder angle. Jarrett beat Hennig in 4:24 in a match that had zero heat when Sean Stasiak, who they actually said used to be Meat in the WWF, came out. After a ref bump, Stasiak did some move on Hennig. Nobody to this day has any idea what it was because it was totally screwed up, almost making it a Shock Master calibre debut. Jarrett then scored the pin with the stroke. Flair beat Douglas via DQ in 3:05. They were really smart to keep Flair fighting in his street clothes. Russo hit Flair with a baseball bat for the DQ and stole his watch. Then he buried Flair in the desert. Okay, I was making that one up. Nash did an interview and basically ripped the old TV shows and made more inside references and put over Hall. Awesome came out to no reaction and beat up Nash with his own crutch. A hummer smashed into Hogan's limo a zillion times, nearly killing Hogan. Bischoff and Kidman came out of the hummer. As Hogan was in a neckbrace and half dead, Kidman sprayed "NB" for New Blood on Hogan. Finally, in a match to determine who would face Jarrett, Russo's best friend in the company, for the least important major company world title in the history of this great sport, Page, Bischoff's beat friend beat Sting in 3:42 with a diamond cutter when Jarrett was distracting Kimberly and the ref was missing allowing Vampiro to turn on Sting. Jarrett hit Kimberly with a guitar when Page moved after the match to a huge pop. Jarrett did an interview but Page ran in to attack him. This led to Steiner, Luger, Vampiro, Wall, Sting, Booker and Cat, which I guess shows who is on the pushed list, all filling the ring while fans continued to scream for Goldberg. Bischoff and Russo were on the stage and just as the show went off the air, they were confronted by Hart. The finish was very well done

In the notes regarding the history of ratings, there is a minor correction. The first head-to-head Raw vs. Nitro was September 11, 1995 with Nitro beating Raw by .3 as we wrote last week. Nitro was headlined by Hulk Hogan vs. Lex Luger while Raw was headlined by Shawn Michaels vs. Sid. However, the first Nitro ever from the Mall of America in Minneapolis was the previous week, and was unopposed due to U.S. Open coverage

On Nitro during the opening team meeting, everyone was supposed to act scared and somber, but you could see everyone biting their tongue because they were fighting from cracking up because Knobs' hair was set on fire by the pyro coming out

Juventud Guerrera is probably about one week from returning to in-ring wrestling. Rey Misterio Jr. has been pressured to wrestle soon, but with the type of surgery he's recovering from, and the fact he's now already had three surgeries, coming back too early and injuring it again is a risk not worth taking so he probably shouldn't be in the ring until June or July

Psicosis once again no-showed Nitro on 4/10 after headlining the previous night in Tijuana

At the "Ready to Rumble" premiere, they held a 5:00 match with Vampiro vs. Wall. It was a major letdown in that when both men came out, the description was that you could have heard a pin drop and with the exception of a few Vampiro fans, there was virtually no recognition of either guy. They did a match described as nothing special. Vampiro had claimed before hand that he was going to do a moonsault off the roof of the place which would have been a suicidal move

DDP appeared on "Politically Incorrect" on 4/6 with three of the other stars of "Ready to Rumble." He didn't say much, and it was a conversation carried by Rose McGowen based around whether it's better or worse to be a male homosexual than a female one

To show that pro wrestling lingo has become a part of pop culture, check out this from the Edmonton newspaper as its review of "Ready to Rumble:" "I feel like laying the smack down on Brian Robbins, the jibroni who directed this b-show of a movie which has as much bounce of a pair of worn-out bozarks. He and the rest of the heels involved in Ready to Rumble should be given the atomic drop (does that move even exist in today's wrestling lingo?) after globbing the marks this badly. The performances are all no sell with Oliver Platt as the babyface being a sure no-show. In short, Ready to Rumble is a screwjob.

We want to send our condolences to Scott Hudson on the loss of his father while he was doing Nitro on 4/10

At this point, the Sonny Onoo led lawsuit against WCW is still on

The only house shows canceled thus far are 4/27 through 4/30 in Tallahassee, Albany, GA, Columbus, Ga and Macon, GA but numerous others will be shortly

A&E will be doing a Hulk Hogan biography show on 6/6

A Where are they now. Kip Frey, who ran WCW in early 1992, after Jim Herd and before Bill Watts, is now the President and Chief Executive Officer of OpenSite, an internet company. In his resume, Frey, who is also an adjunct professor at Duke Law School, lists holding executive and legal positions at TBS, but there is no mention of his ever working for or running WCW

Regarding the WCW Nitro in India (and this goes for the United Kingdom as well), with TNT being removed in those countries and replaced by Turner Classic Movies, it is official in India and may be in England that in those countries Nitro will air on TCM in the same time slot it aired on TNT

Scott Steiner will be on the cover of the June issue of Iron Man, a bodybuilding magazine

Douglas signed a two-year deal before Nitro started

Bagwell's three year new contract agreed to in March was reportedly for $700,000, $800,000 and $900,000

House show 4/8 in Chattanooga, TN drew 1,339 paying $29,110. House show 4/9 in Huntsville, AL drew 1,322 paying $28,615. Main event for Chattanooga was Jarrett vs. Bagwell and after a million years, they still haven't learned. They did the Dusty finish where Bagwell scored the pin after a ref bump and the second ref came in and counted three. The first ref then reversed the decision and raised Jarrett's hand. Is there something difficult about the concept of sending the audience home happy? There is the Southern mentality when they would work cities weekly where the heels had to leave with heat because you had to sell tickets to see them get beat up next Friday night. But when you run house shows every four to six months, you should be able to manipulate the order of the card so that fans leave happy. It can't be that difficult if WWF does it most of the time. And even if you can't do a clean pinfall face win at the end, why do the proven city killing Dusty finish? For Huntsville they headlined with a three-way with Hennig winning over Bigelow and Wall.

WWF: There is expected to be an announcement regarding the television situation imminently. Based on what we believe to be the case based on numerous reports, the much-talked about CBS deal has likely been agreed to in principle by both sides. Officially, WWF has to give USA network the right to match the offer. We are under the impression that USA has already been given the offer to match, and had not at least as of a few days ago officially given WWF an answer on whether or not to match it, but it has been believed for some time that USA wouldn't be matching the offer

Preliminary estimates are that Wrestlemania did approximately 875,000 buys, which would be a 2.35 buy rate. Based on those numbers, it would be the largest non-boxing PPV as far as orders are concerned in history. The old record was last year's Wrestlemania at 800,000 buys. It should be noted that at this point in time last year they were also estimating 875,000 and the real number turned out slightly lower. We don't have any percentage breakdown as to who ordered the $49.95 as opposed to the $34.95 package, so it's impossible to estimate revenue accurately, but if we go by the assumption that 40% ordered the 12-hour package, which I believe to be a very conservative estimate it would make Titan's take just off the PPV of the event be more than $15 million. Wrestlemania in Australia was the second biggest PPV event in history, trailing only the Mike Tyson vs. Francis Botha fight. PPV is in its infancy in the country, so that only means 24,000 orders at $19.95 Australian and many of the big boxing matches, because they had a higher price tag, did gross more money

Steve Austin started filming the final two episodes of the season on "Nash Bridges" on 4/5

The 4/30 Backlash PPV is expected to be headlined by an HHH vs. Rock title match

Raw on 4/10 from the NCR Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL drew a sellout 13,859 paying $395,128. The show was fine, but had the feeling of being uneventful. The show opened with Rock doing an interview. Vince came out and ordered a cage match as the main event, without saying who Rock would face in it. It was a lengthy interview with Vince saying he was the one who made Rock, that Rock would have been a star without him but not a superstar and then said he could have made him Doink the Clown, the Gobbledy Gooker or Bastion Booger. The crowd was quiet because I doubt many of the fans in attendance had a clue about the Gobbledy Gooker (a failed mascot like gimmick about ten years ago for Hector Guerrero) and considering most current wrestling fans go back to 1997, few probably knew Bastion Booger either and many don't even know Doink. Over the past week, they came up with a reason why Vince turned on Rock at Mania. Because Rock never said "thank you" for all Vince did for him. Vince did a great interview but this was going way too long as a monologue as Rock didn't even get to interplay with him. Finally HHH, Shane and Stephanie came out to make the segment even longer. As Rock was distracted, Vince tried to hit him from behind with a chair, but Rock again grabbed the chair and gave Vince a really easy chair shot to the back, which is a lot better than a really hard chair shot to the head. Christian & Edge retained the tag titles over X-Pac & Road Dogg. Good TV match. Dogg hit Christian with the belt and X-Pac pinned him, but ref Earl Hebner came out and told Mike Kiota what happened, and they re-started the match and quickly Edge speared X-Pac for the pin in 3:06. They did a show long angle involving Terri being nice to Kat and offering her a free make-over. Of course she ended up spiking Kat's drink and writing all over her face and giving her the ugliest haircut (she was actually wearing a wig that they cut) possible. Angle pinned Godfather in 2:02 with the Olympic slam. Angle came out proclaiming the virtues of abstinence and using condoms. He claimed he was celibate and that's why he won an Olympic gold medal. This reminds me of the joke Kevin Lawler said when Angle worked in Memphis as a babyface. He said that Angle was just like the boy next door who married the girl next door. Of course, he grew up next door to a strip club. Benoit & Malenko & Saturn beat Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty & Tazz in 3:49 when Scotty had the cloverleaf on Malenko and Saturn hit Scotty and Malenko scored the pin. Helmsley kept the WWF title beating Michinoku in 5:53 of what was booked as a somewhat competitive match and actually was a hell of a TV match. What is hilarious is that HHH was clearly wearing lifts in his boots (a good percentage of WWF guys do) for this match when there was no reason to, and that Michinoku, who is just about the shortest guy in the promotion and from the looks of things badly needed to, wasn't. The Acolytes chased Shane away from ringside. At one point Funaki interfered and kicked HHH into the Acolytes, who pounded on him. Funaki & Taka then both blew the execution of top rope moves, Funaki not hitting a missile dropkick well and Taka hitting the moonsault block all wrong for a near fall that people actually popped big for. Vince and Shane came back out along with Bossman and Buchanan to beat up the Acolytes. HHH then won in the middle with the pedigree. HHH, Vince and Shane all stomped on the Acolytes after the match. Backstage T&A pounded on the Dudleys because Buh Buh tried to attack Trish Stratus last week. Hardys beat Test & Albert in 3:08 when Matt did the twist of fate and Jeff did the swanton on Albert. Dudleys ran out and gave Test the 3-D. Buh Buh was then distracted by Stratus, and practically drooling over her, allowing Albert to use a neck hanging tree slam on him through a table. It was a great argument for the celibacy that Angle was preaching moments earlier. They debuted this absolutely hilarious Big Show commercial for Chef Boyardee Ravioli. It was basically making fun of his size. Who would have ever thought Paul Wight would become a superstar because of his comedic talents? Show then came out dressed like Val Venis, doing the gimmick about as horribly as it could be done, and was DQ'd against Venis in 2:28 for choking him. It was a really weak finish even for Raw. Guerrero beat Jericho again to keep the European title in 5:18. Good match, but far from the best these two could do. Jericho got the walls on when Chyna distracted Jericho to save. After a really lame looking ref bump spot, Guerrero tried to use the belt but Jericho forearmed the belt into his face. He did the quebrada, but Chyna came in with a low blow and a DDT and put Guerrero on top for the pin. Main event was Rock vs. Bossman & Buchanan in a cage match. Even though it was the main event and lasted only 6:58, which is short for a Raw main event, it seemed too long. Fans were into Rock's comebacks and all, but didn't take seriously him getting pounded by two guys that nobody sees as in his league. After the match HHH got into the cage and rammed Rock into the cage. Rock bladed. HHH used Knux and a pedigree and Rock was bleeding all over the place to the point there were huge stains on the mat. Finally the Acolytes made the save and the show ended with Rock almost in a pool of his own blood

Results from the 4/11 tapings in Tampa. In dark matches, Scott Vick beat Stevie Richards and Scoot Andrews beat Mike Sullivan (the two worked well together). For Heat, Malenko beat 2 Hotty in a lightheavyweight title match with a roll-up. Benoit kept the IC title beating Bob Holly with a german suplex. Venis NC Godfather when both attacked Angle when he came to ringside. Angle degraded one of the ho's by calling her a tramp. Let's see, on the degradation food chain, isn't prostitute slightly lower than tramp? At the beginning of the match, Godfather said he wasn't going to let Venis have one of the ho's because he knew he'd tear her up with his big Valboski. Test DDQ D-Von Dudley with both partners and Stratus at ringside. The Dudleys got a huge face pop. They tried to nail Stratus again but she was saved. Does anyone see the long-term of her dumping T&A for the Dudleys? Michinoku beat Essa Rios. For Smackdown, Rikishi beat Guerrero via DQ in a European title match when Chyna gave him a low blow. Rikishi took a spin bump off the clothesline, obviously not for Guerrero but for Chyna and Chyna also hit him with a flower pot for a near fall. Rikishi did the banzai on Chyna after the match. They did the long interview where HHH, Stephanie and Shane ran down Rock. Rock came out and announced the main event as Rock & Acolytes vs. Bossman & Buchanan & HHH. Snow & Blackman went to a retirement home. Maybe they were there to scout wrestlers trying to make a comeback. Hardys beat Benoit & Malenko. They announced Christian & Edge defending against Show & Angle. Saturn beat Crash Holly to win the hardcore title clean. Then Tazz ran out and pinned Saturn right away to regain the title. Then Crash pinned Tazz and got the belt back again. Tazz and Saturn wound up brawling. Those poor people who actually keep track of title histories must be loving this. Christian & Edge beat Show & Angle. Angle had to cut his promo twice because he messed up the first time. Show came out to bagpipes doing a spoof of both Roddy Piper and Fat Bastard from Austin Powers II. Show beat up Angle after Angle slapped Show for lifting up his kilt. Buh Buh Ray Dudley beat Albert using the 3-D. Trish then pulled out a table, but wouldn't you know it, Buh Buh put Albert through it. Jericho told Stephanie and Tori they looked almost as good as Godfather's ho's. Stephanie than ordered Jericho in a handicap match against X-Pac & Dogg. Blackman got mad at the retired people for not laughing at his jokes and pulled out in nunchakus. Dogg & X-Pac beat Jericho when Jericho had the Walls on Tori, but X-Pac got the X-factor on him for the pin. Shane put Earl Hebner on probation for constantly screwing up. Acolytes & Rock beat HHH & Bossman & Buchanan via DQ. Hebner shoved Shane out of the ring. DX brawled with Acolytes leaving HHH with Rock. Rock put Shane through a table with the rock bottom. Rock gave Shane a people's elbow after TV went off the air

WWF Sr VP of Marketing Jim Byrne spoke on 4/4 at the University of Texas. He gave several figures on attendance, web hits, etc. that were accurate. Actually, since WWFE went on the stock market, their public information about revenues has gotten a lot more realistic than the usual triple and quadruple reality figures from the old days. Byrne said the WWF was going to start its own independent record label called Raw Records, which would also sign non-WWF recording talent. I can see them already attempting to market Lillian Garcia as a singer, since average talent and a great package is what they are experts at marketing. He claimed they are moving their merchandising away from toys, claiming they are a holdover from the 80s era, which I guess is based on the criticism of presenting what they admit is adult entertainment while still marketing it to the youngest of children. He said the WWF is developing an action adventure show starring Steve Austin to try and pitch the networks. He was asked about the Owen Hart lawsuit and said that the WWF has offered to take care of Martha Hart and her children for the rest of their lives but she is being ill-advised by her legal counsel and said it could drag on for years. He admitted explaining to the outside world the Mae Young angles has been hard. He claimed the company has never gotten a negative phone call or letter regarding the Godfather character and said the only people who react negatively to it are the media. He got more and more hostile as he spoke about the media. He said they are working on marketing and maintaining their audience of female teens. When asked about Vince Russo, he said he wished him the best and pointed out since he left, WWF has gone up and WCW has gone down and said that perhaps Vince McMahon was protecting Russo from himself by shooting down so many of his outlandish, ridiculous ideas. He really got animated when asked about "Beyond the Mat," with the new story being a claim that Blaustein personally arranged for Mick Foley's family to be at ringside (actually they were supposed to be at ringside because they were originally to be part of the finish for that match). He claimed he told Blaustein at the Royal Rumble that he couldn't film the show but he did so anyway and claimed he went to Vince McMahon at that point to pull the plug on the entire movie unless McMahon could take full control of it and said they would never allow anything like that again. When asked if Foley was really retired, he said that there has to be more for him than the finish at Wrestlemania. He said there would be betting on the XFL in Las Vegas (the next day it came out in the Detroit News that it is unlikely that will be the case) and said, and you'll love this, Vince would be furious if he found out some sport he was watching was rigged. Hopefully Vince hasn't watched much boxing of late

On the injury front, Grand Master Sexay had floating cartilage in his knee wind up in his bursa sac which resulted in major knee swelling over the past few weeks. The injury actually occurred on 3/22 in Champaign, IL and he had to have the knee drained a few times and had to heavily pad it to work through Wrestlemania. He's undergone arthroscopic knee surgery since the big show but it was considered minor surgery and he should be back perhaps as early as the 4/30 PPV show. At Wrestlemania, as a rib, Saturn pulled his beanie off and his extensions, which are sewn into the beanie, came off with them which caused him to do some pouting backstage. Brian Lawler is ribbed more than most because of the feeling that he thinks he's a much bigger star than anyone else thinks he is, and even when he was booked as a jobber, walked around like he was cocky

Kane broke a small bone in his hand before Wrestlemania but wanted to work the show as well and they did the angle the next night. He isn't expected to be out of action very long, but will be wrestling for some time with a cast on his hand which will limit his gripping ability

Foley didn't suffer any serious injuries at Mania

Jeff Hardy suffered a bruised heel in the ladder match and was very sore all over his body after the match was over and the next day. He was a lot better by San Jose, but still wasn't put in a match on that show

Undertaker has started to lift weights and is expected back in the ring in six to eight weeks. There is an unofficial target date of King of the Ring for his wrestling return, although he may be doing an angle to set that up in May

Rock isn't expected to miss any PPV shows during the filming of "Mummy 2.

In the hardcore Battle Royal, the way the match was supposed to end was that with seconds remaining, Bob Holly was supposed to break the candy jar over Crash's head and cover him for the pin. At the count of two, the time was supposed to run out. What happened is that Bob was slightly early in breaking the jar and making the cover. Crash, who had no way of seeing the time, didn't kick out, since he wasn't supposed to. Ref Tim White counted 1-2 and was bringing down the hand for three waiting for the bell that didn't come. He actually never hit the mat for three as Tazz' body blocked him, or White used that as his impromptu reason. Crash never kicked out so Ross announced to try and make sense out of the situation of White stopping the count that Crash had rolled his shoulder, which clearly he hadn't. So while it didn't end perfectly, they seemingly managed to cover it well enough. There have been a lot more screwed up finishes that still went through with the planned result. The problem was that backstage, for whatever reason, they thought White hit the mat for the third count before the bell rang and for that reason felt for credibility that Bob had to be announced as the winner. Even though everyone assumed Crash won the match and the announcers were even calling it, both the announcers and Howard Finkel were given word from the back that the finish was changed from watching the monitors and that Bob had won. Then when they went to the replays to show the finish that they thought was screwed up and that White never hit the mat for the three, it just made it that much worse

Current plan, which can always change, is for Undertaker to be brought back as Kane's tag team partner with both being managed by Paul Bearer

The Aggression CD dropped to No. 12 in its second week selling 77,893 units, down 28% from its open. WWF the Music Volume Four in its 22nd week on the charts was at No. 192 with 7,190 units sold

There is talk of putting Scott Vick & Val Venis together as a tag team

The Dupp Brothers may be put on television shortly

The woman who turned on Godfather and went with Big Show in San Jose is actually Show's real-life fiance. At the time the idea was for it just to be a one-time thing and not introduce her as a regular character

To clear up rumors, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna have broken up. She confirmed this in a Dallas newspaper by saying she isn't seeing anyone. Part of the reason may have been that she wants to live in California because there has been interest in her for acting parts and she felt the need to be located close by and he just bought an expensive home in New Hampshire

The Team Extreme that appeared on the San Jose taping against the Ballard Brothers were two Southern California wrestlers from Rick Bassman's school, one of which was Justin McCulley, who has experience in shootfighting

If you noticed, Eddy Guerrero named his low rider car "Love Machine" after long-time tag partner Art Barr

Brock Lesnar of the University of Minnesota, who the WWF has expressed interest in, captured the NCAA heavyweight championship in St. Louis a few weeks back (winning his championship match 3-2 in double overtime). At the tournament when he was asked about his future and said he was definitely not going to play football and said pro wrestling was a good possibility. Lesnar was recommended to us about two years ago (at the time his nickname was "The Rock,") as someone with a great pro wrestling look and great athletic ability (actually the same person who told me about him told me in 1981 after the NCAA tournament about a guy with great pro wrestling potential named Steve "Dr Death" Williams). You can never predict how a great amateur will do as a pro because they are so entirely different worlds and a lot depends on the drive of the athlete to leave his ego at the door and entirely change his way of thinking, but there are many great amateurs and everyone knows the top names on the list that have gone on to become legendary pros. Lesnar said he wasn't going to compete this month at the U.S. freestyle nationals because at the end of the season he was burned out. Lesnar scored three pins his five tournament wins

In the New York Daily News on 4/10 gossip column, they talked about a celebrity auction at a private school in Encino, CA. Clothes autographed by Muhammad Ali went for $2,500. A limo ride with John Travolta to his next movie premiere went for $3,000. A dinner with Foley ended up going for $31,000

The Canadian Football League is looking to make a pact with the XFL, obviously in an attempt to keep the XFL, which is going to have a higher salary structure, from raiding the league of its best players. CFL President Jeff Giles said that he spoke with Carl DeMarco, the President of WWF Canada, about it, and DeMarco didn't give him an answer. CFL commissioner John Tory was quoted on CTB SportsNet.com as saying, "I don't for a minute underestimate the resources and the talents of Vince McMahon and the people in his organization. I believe it would be a very good idea to get involved with them and I know our board would be eager to talk with them. What was on the table (that the CFL turned down which led to the formation of this league) was the outright sale of the league an the outright loss of our rules and we weren't interested in that. They wanted complete control of the league and our board felt that was giving up too much. DeMarco, last week, in the Toronto Sun, said, regarding the CFL, "Those idiots missed the boat. The CFL dropped the ball. The WWF could have been the CFL's white knight. Seven out of eight teams lose money and surveys show the fans don't care--they really dropped the ball. Everyone mocked the WWF and Vince McMahon and he just proved everybody wrong." In this football venture, McMahon very well may prove everybody wrong, but at this point in time to say he already has is premature to say the least. In what TV people the past few days were pointing out as a bad sign, NBC put the NBA in prime time on 4/8 with the Lakers vs. Spurs which only drew a 2.7 rating, about half of what NBC averages with regular programming. The Wall Street Journal ran an article this past week saying how advertisers are very skeptical about the prospects for the XFL to be competitive in network prime time ratings. The funny thing within the advertising community is that they think the XFL WILL draw the WWF audience and not the NFL audience, which they don't consider good. At this point, according to WSJ was that "one of the fears potential XFL advertisers appear to have is how closely will the XFL be associated with the WWF and the much younger, less affluent audience professional wrestling attracts.

On the New York Times best seller list for this weekend, Rock's book is No. 3 and Mick Foley's book is No. 10

Lots of stories going around regarding what appears to be the quiet demise of WWF New York, the restaurant/merchandise store on Times Square. The WWF is no longer pushing the place on the web site or on television, and reports are the Continued on page 10.

THE READERS PAGES

 

NITRO

Something interesting took place last night as me and three friends were watching Nitro. One of my friends and I are pretty big fans and read a lot of internet reports every day. The other two only watch wrestling on television.

While my one friend and I knew pretty much what was always being referred to during the show, the other two were getting totally lost every time a wrestler, or Bischoff or Russo would talk about how they got oppressed, the good ol' boys, etc. I think a lot of wrestling fans don't know about the behind the scenes stuff and when WCW kept referring to those things, it turns a lot of people off. Nitro was really good, and we watched until Raw came on, and even flipped back every so often, but the constant behind the scenes references that a lot of the audience is totally clueless about could be bad for WCW.

Jason Plank

Is it me or would Nitro have been a lot better if they got someone with some charisma and some interview ability to play the Vince Russo character instead of Russo himself. It was painfully obvious he doesn't belong in front of the camera. I was very disappointed that Paul Heyman didn't go farther in his legal action against WCW and instead let them buy out the contract. I know ECW is a smaller company, but wouldn't they have gotten back their legal costs if they won the case?

Danny Reinig

So let me get this straight. The new regime is pushing the younger wrestlers and trying to phase down the older wrestlers. So we showcased the new young talent with Sting vs. Sid, Luger vs. Page as the world title tournament. As part of phasing down the older guys, we're not going to play the full entrance themes or have pyro. So then Ric Flair's music played in full and DDP got his full pyro the second time he came out. Sure. You can never be No. 1 when you continually acknowledge on TV that the other guys are really No. 1, like anyone is supposed to care that Meat defected. And what did Scott Steiner say?

Brad Belote

Thank God we found out it was Bischoff driving the limo. Now all I need to find out is who Macho Man is passing the torch to.

Jeff Miller

Congratulations to Vince "watch me mark out for myself" Russo and Wanna be Vince McBischoff for pulling off the most boneheaded move quite possibly in the history of modern wrestling. According to the new WCW storylines, all the young guys who have been held back due to politics are a bunch of whiny crybabies who can't cut it and all the old guys who manipulate things backstage and can't cut it in the ring anymore are the sympathetic babyfaces who have to fight off the New Blood World Order who are trying to take away their rightfully deserved positions. This doesn't build up any of the young guys because it's designed to make Hogan, Luger and Sid look like the stars and the future of the company. To build up Tank Abbott as an opponent for Bill Goldberg, they have him rip the clothes off a fat man and spank him on TV. Mike Awesome made his debut to more silence than the T&A vs. Head Cheese match at Wrestlemania. And let's not forget the 10 million smart mark comments throughout the course of the show that left the average television viewer clueless. It was the equivalent of an Ed Wood movie. It was so awful that you couldn't turn it off because you knew it would get worse. And it did. The only thing missing were the UFOs made from paper plates.

Scott Foy

Nitro kicked ass. I didn't like it for a long time, but it was refreshing to see some new stuff and some interesting angles. It reminded me of the old Nitro. I thought Raw sucked and was the same old stuff.

Mike Harris

Nitro was awesome. Forget that there were too many insider references. The product was fresh and the show was watchable. The New Blood angle is great, especially the ending scene so fans who see who is being pushed in the new group. Hogan vs. Kidman and Flair vs. Douglas are angles whose time is due.

Adam Tirapelle

I also thought Nitro was very good last night and for the first time in a long time, I had no desire to turn to RAW and see another episode of "The McMahons."

Sean Stasiak was horrible and Mike Awesome looks like a monster on ECW TV but he sure didn't look like one being in the same ring with Kevin Nash. Not sure if that was a good idea of who to debut him with. Was this Crash TV or a 50-car pile-up? I don't expect, nor would I want them to, use the same style of show each week.

I'd be more impressed if they could present Nitro with various types of production and angles so they don't fall into a pattern. In other words, too much Crash TV isn't necessarily a good thing. There is nothing wrong with letting one hour be devoted entirely to one match.

When WCW was on top, they didn't bother to change their style to keep things fresh. They may never get back on top again, but if the ratings do increase next week, that should be their inspiration to continue. Keep things fresh and make sure the angles make sense all-around, this time.

Bob Closson

ECW

Thanks for the reality check as it pertained to the New Jack/Vic Grimes situation. Let's call it what it was. It was a dumb idea to even try a stunt like that given the horrible footing they had on the scaffold. However, I feel your assessment of the wrestling fans in that situation was a bit unwarranted.

I had two friends in attendance that night. They indicated to me that from the way they fell, only the fans up close could have really seen how bad it was. The rest of the arena got cut off when New Jack cleared the table. They were under the impression it was a typical New Jack dive, the kind we've seen a dozen times before, and, unfortunately, will probably see a dozen more times. They're programmed to believe everything is alright because it was done within the context of a worked match. Once things settled down and the crowd picked up on the fact that everything wasn't alright, it became somber, which is exemplified by the lack of heat for the rest of the show.

To compare the crowd in Danbury with that in Kansas City is unfair. Owen Hart did not jump off the top rope onto the floor and break his neck and die. Had that happened, he also would have gotten a pop from the crowd for the dive and nobody would have acted concerned until they realized he wasn't moving. Owen fell from a ceiling. I have no idea how many fans saw his fall from beginning to end, but I'm guessing that those who did didn't break into a "he's hardcore" chant.

Your were absolutely right about the point that someday, there is going to be a death in front of a huge television audience in a worked match. I can see Ted Koppell on "Nightline." "An arena full of bloodthirsty fans cheering a man as he dies. Ancient Rome? No, this is professional wrestling?" That's what the mainstream will see and there won't be a thing any fan who is sorry about the death can do about it.

Anthony Pires

East Providence, Rhode Island

In listening to your conversation with Joel Gertner, he can say whatever he wants about ECW being No. 2, but as a guy who lives on the West Coast, they're a distant No. 3 because they've never come here. The farthest west they go is Chicago. That makes them a big regional company, not a national company. His glossing over the totally tasteless JFK Jr. comments was really cheap. The old saw about the difference between comedy and tragedy being time is absolutely true. If Joel ever wants to be thought of as a top notch performer, it would do him well to remember that.

Ryan Grant

Spokane, Washington

I was at the Wonderland show where the Erich Kulas/New Jack incident took place. I think you should give the fans in attendance just a little more credit. Nobody could tell the severity of Kulas' injury. All I could see was that a guy was juicing heavily, which was not particularly unusual for a Gangstas match. I disagree strongly that the court decision wasn't absolutely correct. In a similar vein, I think its ridiculous that Marty McSorley is being criminally prosecuted for his hit on Donald Brashear. It was excessive, of course, but it was within the context of the game. If you don't want to get hurt by a sick bastard like New Jack, stay the hell out of the ring. As for New Jack's comments after the match, that is standard in wrestling. What good would it have done anyone for him to break character and act concerned?

Liam Kelly

DM: I never said the court's decision wasn't correct. I said that Kulas ruined a case he possibly could have resulted in a conviction if he didn't destroy his own credibility on the stand. Personally I think McSorley should have been prosecuted. A typical hockey fight is accepted within the boundaries of hockey as part of the game, but an attempt to seriously injure someone with a stick is not. I'm sorry that you think saying "I hope the motherf---er bleeds to death" as a guy is legitimately bleeding uncontrollably and having the audience cheer it is an easily defendable position. When it's considered more important not to break character and ruin the illusion than have anyone worry about someone whose physical condition looked to be precarious as should have been evident by the amount of blood and the panic of the EMT's working on the victim, says something really sick about the mind set of the industry.

Two recent ECW syndicated TV shows compelled me to write. The show one week before the Living Dangerously PPV featured a total of 13 broken table spots. That sort of booking isn't "extreme," it's redundant. It got to the point where it looked as if the wrestling, what little there was, was merely a transition until the next table spot. Needless to say, the impact of virtually any future table spot, like the one they used for the Spike Dudley injury angle, became null and void after viewers have been trained.

To follow this up, ECW opened the next show by highlighting the New Jack/Vic Grimes fall from the scaffold, which we all know came inches away from ending tragically. So naturally ECW responds by glorifying this botched spot, which does nothing more than imply to viewers that a completely insane dangerous accidental spot is to be expected from ECW. The end result is that more workers are going to emulate it, and risk their careers in the process, and have more crowds chant "boring" at the few ECW wrestlers who put their health and safety before a 20 second pop. My response to this is one word--irresponsible.

Paul Armentano

Richmond, California

TITLE HISTORIES

Thanks for your comments about the book in the Observer. I appreciate your help in getting the word out.

Just how insignificant today's titles are compared with the past was driven home to me again recently as I watched the pilot episode of WCW Classics, which is supposed to start airing on the Turner South network this summer.

The second of the three matches on the show was five minutes of the 1985 Magnum T.A. victory over Wahoo McDaniel to win the U.S. title. While the work wouldn't be over to today's audience, although I enjoyed it, it was amazing to see what a great job the commentators, Tony Schiavone and David Crockett, I think, did, as well as Magnum, in getting over the title switch as something important, and just how big a pop it got from the crowd, none of which would happen today, especially for something that has become an irrelevant title.

You mentioned that the U.K. version of the WWF Classics show had a Satoru Sayama match on it recently. No such luck with the WWF version, which led off with a throwaway Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Tommy Rich show from a 1990 Clash of the Champions and ended with a Ric Flair title defense against Nikita Koloff. When the show goes into production, the producer hopes to be able to do interviews with the wrestlers in the matches and add them to the match highlights.

In the recent Nitro special, I was surprised to see them using so many of the current WWF stars. The producers of WCW Classics were told they aren't even allowed to use old Brisco brothers matches because of Gerald currently appearing on camera in the WWF.

Gary Will

Waterloo, Ontario

RINGS

As RINGS slowly becomes a shoot promotion, one must consider ringing the bell ten times for the death of shoot style pro wrestling.

This is truly a sad day. Although the style has left an indelible mark on mainstream pro wrestling in Japan, this is the first time since the second UWF debuted in 1988 that there is no true major league shoot style promotion in Japan.

Personally, I feel this is a terrible mistake. We will be losing two of the all-time great workers in the style, Volk Han and Kiyoshi Tamura. Sure, Tamura will stick around, slowly losing prestige in an all-shoot promotion. But I'd much rather see Tamura in pro wrestling than shooting.

As RINGS goes all shoot, the question also must be raised. Why this style? The modified Pancrase shoot style is dead as disco. Even Masakatsu Funaki and company realize that the faster paced NHB action is the wave of the future. RINGS prohibition of striking on the ground will lead to fiascos like the King of Kings finals or the ADCC submission competitions, with the fighters trying to control, not to win.

Jonathan Snowden

GOTCH-HACKENSCHMIDT

I just finished reading the letter from Mike Chapman as well as your comments. Both of you make good points. No doubt Chapman has studied Frank Gotch extensively and I applaud him for his efforts. At the same time, I think you should be commended for your willingness to talk about the issues.

I especially liked how you mentioned that the real story was not something that was going to be advertised at the time in the local media. How true. Although old newspapers can be somewhat of a source for information, newspaper accounts cannot reflect all of what really went on, just as they don't today when we see pro boxing matches and shady endings. Additionally and most importantly, for the most part, we can't trust the opinions and stories of pro wrestlers, or the offspring of former pro wrestlers. Whether or not someone is a Christian has no bearing on whether or not they will tell the truth, or even know the truth for that matter. Look at Jimmy and Tammy Faye Baker, Jimmy Swaggart and countless others. As a rule of thumb, I immediately distrust anyone who, in the first five minutes of meeting them in a conversation, tells me that he is a Christian. Hold on tight to your wallet, if you know what I'm saying.

I agree with Mike that Ad Santel was not in the Hackenschmidt camp. At the same time, I want to point out something that neither of you even covered, that being the assumption that George Hackenschmidt was a top-notch wrestler. Based on my studying of Hackenschmidt's so-called wrestling books, pitiful technique to say the least, and based upon what Karl Gotch has told me, a pro wrestler whose opinions that I trust, Hackenschmidt knew nothing about submissions, and other than a bearhug, knew very little else. There was no way Hackenschmidt had the necessary skills to beat a well trained guy like Gotch. It would be like saying Arnold Schwarzeneggar in his prime could have beaten Dan Severn because he could out bench press him. One is a wrestler. One pushes weights. As you said, promoters can turn anything into theater and make a gullible public believe they're seeing something legit.

Chapman contends that Gotch carried a few opponents, but never did a work. It has to be said that a work doesn't have to be a match that you lose. Gotch could have done a work which, like with Lou Thesz and many others, he knew he was going to win. Carrying a man could very well be coded language for a worked match. But Gotch, unlike Hackenschmidt, could truly wrestle and didn't need to carry anyone. The fact that people argue over who really hurt Hackenschmidt's knee, Dr. Roller or Ad Santel, in my estimation, proves he couldn't have beaten them either. Last of all, after Hackenschmidt's second loss to Gotch, we never heard about him wrestling again. He was exposed for what he was and that was the end of the line for him.

Matt Furey

Tampa, Florida

BOOKS

I read both Dynamite Kid's book and Mick Foley's. I enjoyed them both immensely, but I enjoyed Billington's book better. I found his pranks to be almost painful in their passive aggressiveness, although his treatment of the referee who cut his match short was appropriate. Anyone who cut a Dynamite Kid match short deserves immense punishment. It's funny that both Foley and Tom Billington took digs at The Sheik in their books. I've always despised him for his pathetic work rate and ability.

George Vlahos

OGAWA

In your 3/27 Observer you stated that Naoya Ogawa was a three-time world judo champion, when in fact, he has four titles. He won the open weight class in 1987, 1989 and 1991 as well as winning the 95 kilogram (209 pound) class in 1989. I've also noticed that on a number of occasions you have called Grom Zaza a mediocre wrestler when he has a far superior international record to Mark Coleman, Mark Kerr and Tom Erikson.

Michael Stringer

DM: I'm well aware that Zaza has wrestled in the Olympics and I would never ref to someone who wrestled in the Olympics as a mediocre wrestler. Because he's a pure wrestler with limited experience in submissions and no stand-up skills, he's not nearly as strong a free fighter as a wrestler.

We witnessed an historic moment in legitimizing the world heavyweight pro wrestling championship belt. The RINGS title is one of the top world titles in the pro wrestling industry and the champion, Kiyoshi Tamura, went into a slightly different rule MMA competition along with 31 other big name real fighters, and made it to the final four, including getting a strong win over Renzo Gracie, the best of the Gracie fighters.

There is an interesting comparison of the U.S. and Japanese pro wrestling scene. WCW right now is in big trouble, with declining ratings and popularity. One of the reasons is the lack of respect they've given to their own championships. Even fans who follow Nitro tend to forget who the world champion is the day after a title change. One night we saw Chris Benoit as a world champion and a few weeks later he's on Raw. Tamura went back to the turn of the century tradition of a pro wrestling world champion being a true shooter.

Tadashi Tanaka

New York, New York


Continued from page 15. place from the start has been fairly empty except on Mondays and Thursday nights and it's on the most expensive real estate location probably in the entire country, if not the world. Sounds similar to the quiet demise of the WWF Hotel in Las Vegas

When Shawn Michaels was asked about the Foley and Rock book and if he'd do a book, his response was, "I would like to, but I want to do it if I can write a real book. What people want to hear. I'm not gonna write some fluff book. I mean, I've read the other ones and they're fluff. I mean they're not...you know..man, most people who wrote them aren't guys that know the inside of the inside. They haven't been right there with the biggest names in wrestling.

Speaking of Rock, here's a new form of advertising. WWF is running a house show on 6/3 in Napanee, ONT advertising HHH vs. Jericho for the title as the main event and Edge & Christian vs. X-Pac & Road Dogg for the tag titles. Don't read anything into that announcement because WWF usually changes its house show cards every other week based on the fact they don't book TV more than a week in advance. But in the ad it specifically mentions that Rock would not be on the show, which I guess means that at the house shows he misses, even when he's not advertised, people must be going to the box office and complaining

Tazz on Mike Awesome in an interview with Alex Marvez on wrestlingobserver.com: "I think it's great for Mike Awesome and his family financially if it's there. But I feel that him as

the world champion from ECW going to Nitro is horrible. I'm old school. I'm a firm believer in doing the business the right way when you're going out the door. No matter how much animosity you have with the boss, you still owe your locker room as world champion and your fans that moment when you drop the belt and pass it on to another wrestler. I did it to Mike Awesome. I have nothing against Mike. Personally, I like Mike. The world heavyweight championship really means a lot to that company. Paul markets that belt in a big way. I'd hate to see him kill that belt. I understand he has some animosity with Paul, but it's business. I lost to Mike Awesome and handed him the belt. Mike wasn't in the company for a year. He was home with an injury. There were other guys in that locker room that I felt, I don't want to say deserve that belt more, but were in line for that belt. Guys like Rob Van Dam and Sabu and Justin Credible and Tommy Dreamer. Even Raven, who was only back a couple of weeks when I was there. Paul decided that Mike Awesome was the guy he wanted to do this with

One of the first things Vince McMahon said to me was do business the right way and drop the strap. I said I'd do it no other way

When I was ECW champ if someone offered me billions of dollars, I swear on my life I wouldn't throw that belt down.

In the United Kingdom, the latest ratings saw Nitro on 3/30 drew 100,000 viewers (the lowest in history, which is partially because the product was so bad but also stemming from the bad reaction to the tour), Raw on 3/31 drew 390,000 viewers and ECW on 4/2 drew 90,000 viewers

The stock closed on 4/11 at $14.19 per share. The reason the stock has been dropping is because insiders who owned the stock aren't allowed to sell it for six months, a period that comes due on 4/15. Approximately $54 million worth of stock would have the potential of being sold by insiders at the same time. While it won't end up being nearly that much, the potential is there of a great deal of stock all attempted to be unloaded at once which would quickly lower the stock price

Smackdown tapings on 4/4 in San Jose drew a sellout 11,833 paying $355,210. There were no house shows over the past week since they gave the crew a weekend off as a break after Wrestlemania weekend. Between Smackdown and the Fort Lauderdale Raw, the merchandise was $241,637 or $9.41 per head, again attributable to just how much Rock merchandise is moving these days.

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